CPJ denounces Iranian threats against Maziar Bahari

New York, April 19, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned threats made by the Iranian government against Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari. Bahari, left, who was imprisoned in Iran for 118 days on fabricated antistate charges following last year’s disputed June presidential election, told CPJ that family members in Iran had received a threatening phone call on Saturday from a man who identified himself as an Iranian court official. 

The caller threatened unspecified consequences if Bahari continued to speak out on behalf of his imprisoned colleagues. Bahari, who also serves as a consultant to a campaign calling for the release of imprisoned Iranian journalists and writers, has made numerous statements and appearances advocating for the many Iranian journalists who remain imprisoned and continue to face baseless criminal charges.

“Tell Maziar that he shouldn’t think we don’t have access to him because he is not in Iran,” said the male caller, who did not identify himself by name. “The situation is getting dangerous now. Anything can happen without advance notice.”

CPJ denounced the threat. “The Iranian authorities continue to resort to harassment and violence to silence critical voices, as evidenced by this latest threat made against our colleague Maziar Bahari,” said CPJ Executive Director, Joel Simon. “We call on Tehran to abandon its intimidation tactics against critical journalists.”

Bahari told CPJ that this is the first time such threats have been expressed to family members. He said that he had previously been contacted through intermediaries in an effort to convince him to keep quiet. He also stated that during his incarceration, he was told that the Revolutionary Guard has “foreign branches that can bring you back in a bag.”

Bahari added that these threats “just show that the regime is insecure and doesn’t want a mirror held up to its face. These tactics are not only futile, but ultimately counterproductive. The regime has to reverse course and have a dialogue with its critics.”