In Iran, journalist association closed down, more arrested

New York, August 6, 2009–Officials shut down the office of the Association of Iranian Journalists in Tehran on Wednesday night, just after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term, according to international news reports. 

Director Badr al-Sadat Mufidi, told the BBC Persian service that agents stormed the office with a warrant from Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s prosecutor general. The association had planned to hold a general meeting today, the BBC reported. According to the association’s Web site, it was founded in 1997 and has 3,700 members.

“The closure of the Association of Iranian Journalists is the latest attempt to intimidate and silence critical journalists,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “The authorities must put an end to their war against the media and immediately release all journalists who remain behind bars.”

CPJ has also confirmed the arrests of three more journalists and the release of one.

Plainclothes security agents arrested Mahdi Yazdani Khoram near his office on Wednesday evening, the newspaper reported. Khoram is editor of arts and literature at Etemad e Melli , a newspaper owned by presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi. Mir-Hameed Hassan-Zadeh, with the Iranian Student News Agency, was arrested Tuesday, according to Parleman News, a local Web site. Hassan-Zadeh used to be the director of Ghalam News, a site affiliated with reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Reza Nourbakhsh, editor-in-chief of Farhikhtegan newspaper, was also picked up on Tuesday, according to the journalist association.

CPJ has confirmed the release of one journalist. Authorities released Sumaia Nusrati, who works for the Tehran-based Tehran Emrouz, on July 29, according to local news reports. She was detained initially on June 21, CPJ research shows.

Iran remains the world’s leading jailer of journalists with at least 38 behind bars.