Iran claims photographers cooperated with ‘enemy’

New York, July 29, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists rejects the alleged confessions by two detained Iranian photographers held incommunicado in Iran since their arrests earlier this month. The two allegedly confessed to sending pictures to the “enemy” following the country’s disputed June 12 presidential elections, according to the official Iranian News Agency (IRNA).

IRNA today reported that photographers Majid Saeedi and Satyar Emami have confessed to having ties with a movement seeking to topple the Iranian government. IRNA’s statement said that members of a network who took pictures and sent them to “enemy [news] agencies” have been identified.

“We are extremely concerned about the accusations against photographers Majid Saeedi and Satyar Emami,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “Iran has a notorious record of coercing confessions from detained journalists, especially when they are held incommunicado for extended periods of time, as has been the case with Saeedi and Emami.”

Saeedi, a prominent photographer for several reformist newspapers in Iran who also works for U.S.-based Getty Images, was arrested on July 10 by security agents at his home, according to news reports. Emami was arrested on July 9. Details of his arrest are not available.

In a separate development on Tuesday, Iranian authorities released on bail Shadi Sadr, a journalist, lawyer, and activist, who was arrested on July 17, the Persian service of the BBC reported. Sadr is an editor for the Web site of Women in Iran, a local women’s rights group.

The IRNA news report comes a few weeks after the semi-official Fars News agency posted a “confession” from detained Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari in which he allegedly said he participated in “promoting a color revolution.” Officers arrested Bahari on June 21. More than 100 prominent journalists worldwide sent a petition to the Iranian authorities on July 15 calling for Bahari’s release.

Even with the release of Shadi Sadr, at least 40 journalists currently remain imprisoned, 34 of whom were detained following the June 12 elections, according to CPJ research.