Iranian journalist arrested, others summoned

New York, September 8, 2009—Iranian authorities arrested one journalist today while security forces summoned at least 15 who were among the signatories of a recent petition demanding the release of detained journalists, local press reported. 

Morteza Alviri, a journalist aligned with defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was arrested by judiciary agents at his home today, local press reported. His arrest came hours after security agents shut down Karroubi’s offices in Tehran, the U.S.-backed Radio Farda reported.

More than 300 Iranian journalists sent a petition to Tehran’s recently appointed prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, on Saturday calling for the release of journalists who have been detained following the country’s disputed June 12 presidential elections, local and international press reported. The group called on Dowlatabadi also to lift the ban on suspended news outlets and reopen the office of the Association of Iranian Journalists, which was shut down on August 5 at the request of former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazevi.

At least 15 journalists who signed the petition were notified by security forces to appear at the Ministry of Information, Mowj-e Sabz-e Azadi, a reformist news Web site, reported today. Names of the journalists were not available.

“Iranian authorities have taken all measures to silence critical voices since the country held the June 12 elections,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “Dozens of journalists and human rights activist remain behind bars without charges or have been forced to confess to crimes they did not commit. We support the demand of our Iranian colleagues and call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all detained journalists.”

Iran has put dozens on trial, including journalists, on charges that include “endangering national security” and “involvement with foreign powers in order to topple the regime.” The authorities have accused opposition leaders and the United States and the United Kingdom of planning post-elections protests. However, on August 26, Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told a group of university students that he didn’t believe opposition leaders were affiliated with foreign powers who are allegedly meddling in Iran’s affairs following the presidential elections, CNN reported.

Around 400 people, among them dozens of journalists, remain in Iranian prisons since the crackdown, according to the New York-based International Campaign for Human rights in Iran