New York, August 25, 2009–The fourth session of the mass trial of more than 100 opposition figures, including journalists, took place in Tehran today. The Committee to Protect Journalists is particularly dismayed by procedural irregularities and the fact that the trial is only open to state-owned media.
In the aftermath of the country’s disputed June 12 presidential election, Iranian authorities have expelled foreign journalists or severely limited their ability to report independently. They have also arrested dozens of journalists, a number of whom are facing various criminal charges.
The Fars News Agency reported that Bastani testified that Mehdi Rafsanjani, the son of powerful cleric and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, sought to create “an illusion that there was a fraud in the voting.” Bastani allegedly also said that he “had orders to attack the four-year work of the government, to weaken the Guardian Council … to cast doubt on the election process.” He works for Jomhoriyat, a news Web site affiliated with the defeated reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi; he was detained on July 5.
Bastani’s alleged confession comes on the heels of others that appear to have been coerced. The journalists’ lawyers have been denied access to their clients in prison, and police chief Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam recently admitted that detainees had been tortured while in custody.
“The government in Tehran seems to have dropped even the pretense of providing defendants with due process,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator