Iranian journalist Badressadat Mofidi gets six years in jail

Mofidi in 2008. (AP/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

New York, August 18, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iranian authorities to reverse a six-year prison sentence against Iranian journalist Badressadat Mofidi.

Mofidi was formerly the secretary-general of the Association of Iranian Journalists in Tehran, an organization that was established by prominent journalists in 1997 and shut down by the authorities in 2009.

On August 3, Branch 26 of Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced Mofidi to six years in prison and banned her from working on "press-related activities" for five years. Many press and political prisoners have been tried in Branch 26 and given heavy sentences in the past year, according to CPJ research.

Mofidi was sentenced for "assembly and collusion to commit a crime" and "propagating against the regime," according to her lawyer, Mohammad Sharif.

"We are shocked by the harshness of Badressadat Mofidi's sentence, which is yet further proof of Teheran's determination to stifle the critical and independent press," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "We call on the authorities to overturn both the prison sentence and the ban on Mofidi's writing."

Sharif told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, that there was no legal foundation for the charges. He pointed out that Mofidi was head of a legal organization that was licensed to operate. Sharif said he plans to appeal but "cannot be too hopeful about the appeals court's ruling." Iranian law stipulates that a defendant has 21 days after the sentence to appeal the decision.

Mofidi was arrested on December 29, only a few days after she discussed the government's press policies in a December 22 interview with the Persian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. She was held in Evin Prison, along with dozens of other journalists who have been rounded up since the June 2009 presidential elections. In June 2010, she was temporarily released on bail while awaiting trial. CPJ was unable to determine whether she has returned yet to jail.

As of CPJ's last comprehensive census, on June 1, there were 37 journalists (not including Mofidi) in prison in Iran.

August 18, 2010 5:45 PM ET |

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