Iran: CPJ calls for humanitarian release as Ramadan ends

New York, September 10, 2009—As the end of Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches, Maziar Bahari, a Canadian-Iranian national, continues to be held in an Iranian jail under deplorable conditions. The Newsweek correspondent has been detained for 80 days since he was arrested on June 21 as part of a post-election crackdown. The Committee to Protect Journalists is renewing its call for his release during this time of forgiveness and compassion in the Muslim world.

“As the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close, we implore the Iranian authorities to take advantage of this blessed occasion, which is a time for benevolence and humanity, to release Maziar Bahari and to permit him to be reunited with his family,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem.

CPJ delivered a petition today via facsimile in support of Bahari to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of Justice in Tehran. With more than 1,600 signatures, the petition requested the direct intervention of Iranian Justice Minister Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani. The Facebook petition started on July 24 in conjunction with other efforts to secure Bahari’s release.

Bahari, 42, is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker and playwright in addition to his work as a journalist with Newsweek. He remains imprisoned as part of what Iranian officials have called a “Western media conspiracy.” Bahari has not had access to a lawyer and only limited contact with family members.

Dozens of journalists remain behind bars since the post-election roundup, including Ahmad  Zaid-Abadi, a columnist for Farsi and English-language reformist news Web site Rooz Online who has reportedly been held in inhumane conditions.

“We are greatly concerned about the dozens of journalists in Iranian prisons and call for their immediate release,” said Abdel Dayem.