Two journalists held without charge

New York, September 3, 2008The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iranian authorities to disclose charges against two detained Kurdish journalists or release them immediately.

On August 28, security forces arrested Anvar Sa’di Muchashi and his cousin at his home in Sanandaj, the capital of the Kordestan province in northwestern Iran, and took them to an unknown location, local journalists told CPJ. A colleague told CPJ that Muchashi, 29, wrote for various local news outlets and has given interviews to Kurdish satellite channels as a journalist and an activist. Muchashi is also a law student at Tehran International University and was previously a staff writer at the now banned weekly newspaper Karaftu.

A day before his arrest, Muchashi told his colleagues that he had received a call from someone who identified himself as security personnel and told Muchashi, “You have crossed the red lines,” one of them told CPJ.

On August 9, security forces arrested Massoud Kurdpour, a freelance journalist and human rights activist, at his home in Bokan, a Kurdish city in northwest Iran, his brother Jaafar Kurdpour told CPJ. Kurdpour, staff writer for the now banned weekly Didga (Views), has regularly given interviews on Kurdish issues in Iran to international outlets such as Voice of America, Radio Farda, BBC Persian, and Deutsche Welle.

“The secrecy surrounding the arrests of Anvar Sa’di Muchashi and Massoud Kurdpour is disturbing,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Our colleagues are entitled to due process. We call on the Iranian authorities to either charge or release them immediately.”

Local journalists told CPJ that Muchashi and Kurdpour are not legally entitled to a lawyer until they are formally charged.

Kurdpour’s brother, who lives in Sweden, said the family has been in touch with him in prison, and that when they last saw him a few days ago he had lost weight and said he had been mistreated. He also said that his family has not been able to talk to Kurdpour regarding his case during their visits, but that they have heard from sources within the security services that part of the reason he was picked up was that “he has talked to international news agencies in the last 10 years.”
Kurdpour’s last interview was with the Kurdish service of the VOA on July 12 about a workers’ strike commemorating the assassination of a Kurdish leader by Iranian agents in Germany in 1989.