Just before a new round of nuclear talks with Iran began on December 6, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung interviewed a high-ranking Iranian official who indicated that two German journalists detained in Iran would possibly be allowed to spend the Christmas holiday with their families at the German Embassy.
This small but not insignificant turn of the fate for two journalists who, weeks before, were expected to face charges of espionage, unfortunately does not extend to the 32 other journalists imprisoned in Iran as of December 1.
One of the journalists who may get a brief furlough is Mohammad Davari, who CPJ recognized with an International Press Freedom Award this year. As editor-in-chief of Saham News, Davari exposed appalling abuse and torture at a detention center in Iran. His coverage led to the closure of the center in 2009–and it led to his own imprisonment some three months later. Davari is now in solitary confinement at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison and reports say his health is deteriorating. He dared to defy a regime that so values its stranglehold on information, and is now paying the very heavy price.
On November 23, we honored Davari’s courage and asked guests at the award dinner to sign a petition demanding his release and the release of the dozens of journalists who remain behind bars. In a sustained effort to silence the press, Iranian journalists continue to be arrested and kept under abusive conditions. We’ve now taken our effort to free those imprisoned to an online petition.
Many prominent journalists and others have already lent their support to freeing Davari. Please join us and sign on. We are also spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter. We are starting with a modest goal of at least 1,000 signatures and will deliver this collective call for Davari’s release to the Iranian government. The imprisoned cannot be erased from our consciousness. We’ve seen what a difference keeping up the pressure can make. After all, over the past year, CPJ advocacy has led to the early release of at least 46 imprisoned journalists.