TRIAL IN CASE OF MURDERED PHOTOJOURNALIST ENDS AMID CHARGES OF GOVERNMENT COVER-UP
July 19, 2004 12:00 PM ET
New York, July 19, 2004—The trial of an intelligence agent accused of killing Canadian-Iranian freelance photographer Zahra Kazemi in July 2003 was suddenly brought to a close on Sunday, July 18, amid accusations from Kazemi's legal team of misconduct.
An Iranian court abruptly ended the trial of Agent Mohamed Reza Aqdam just one day after it began. Aqdam is accused of the "semi-intentional murder" of Kazemi, who died while in official custody last year after she was picked up photographing outside Tehran's Evin Prison.
Kazemi's lawyers, led by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, accused the court of refusing to hear witness testimony and consider evidence implicating another prison official of delivering the fatal blow that killed Kazemi. Foreign journalists and diplomats were barred from attending Sunday's hearing, and Canada withdrew its ambassador in protest of what it called "a flagrant denial of justice."
Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have attempted to restrict coverage of the trial. A journalist quoted by The Associated Press (AP) said her newspaper received a call from Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi, who ordered the paper to delete information about the attempt by Kazemi's lawyers to implicate the other prison official in the journalist's death. According to the AP, most "Iranian newspapers have not published the accusations...apparently fearing retribution."
On Saturday, two Iranian dailies, Vaghayeh Etefaghieh and Jomhuriat, ceased publication. Agence-France Presse reported that one "newspaper was suspended for ‘insulting officials' and another [was] shut down for three weeks by its publisher after he was summoned by prosecutors." The AP reported that at least one of the newspapers had published an article about Kazemi that angered authorities. According to CPJ sources in Tehran, the judiciary also closed the monthly Aftab last week. Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, spokesman for the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, the paper was shuttered in connection with reporting about Kazemi's case.
"We are dismayed by the court's actions, which display utter contempt for justice," said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper.
Background Kazemi, a contributor to the Montreal-based magazine Recto Verso and the London-based photo agency Camera Press, was detained on June 23, 2003, while taking photographs outside Tehran's Evin Prison. She was taken to Baghiatollah Hospital after being held in government custody for nearly two weeks and died on July 10.
For days following Kazemi's death, some Iranian officials maintained that the journalist died of a stroke. But on July 16, 2003, Vice President Mohammed Ali Abtahi announced that the cause of death was a "brain hemorrhage resulting from beatings." A government inquiry released in late July 2003 concluded that Kazemi had died as a result of a skull fracture likely caused by a blow to her head.
New York, March 15, 2017--Iranian authorities should immediately release Ehsan Mazandarani, Hengameh Shahidi, and all journalists jailed for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The arrests come ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May....
New York, September 22, 2016 - Iranian authorities should immediately release two reformist journalists arrested in recent days and stop jailing the media for doing their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At the time of his arrest, pro-government media described Sadra Mohaqeq, the editor of the...
Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is free, Iran news outlet says
January 16, 2016 11:12 AM ET
EDITOR'S NOTE: This alert was updated at 01:23 p.m. Saturday to reflect U.S. officials confirming Jason Rezaian has been freed. New York, January 16, 2016--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who spent 544 days in prison in Iran. Rezaian was freed...