New York, February 10, 2011--As Iran marks the 32nd anniversary of the country's revolution on February 11, the Committee to Protect Journalists and more than 1,000 press freedom supporters delivered a clear message to Iranian Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei today: Free your country's imprisoned journalists.
Iran is the world's leading jailer of journalists, with 34 behind bars--tied with China, CPJ research shows. While the Iranian government continues its intensive campaign to restrict the flow of information by repressing independent media, leading journalists such as Carl Bernstein, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Hollman Morris, David Remnick, Roxana Saberi, and David Rohde are among the 1,102 signatories of CPJ's petition urging Iran to end this unjustifiable crackdown. The petition was delivered this week to Iran's permanent mission to the United Nations.
In its message, CPJ and its supporters urged Khamenei to immediately honor all Iranians' right to information by freeing all journalists serving sentences for daring to report the truth.
The petition was inspired by one victim of the crackdown, Mohammad Davari, who was a recipient of CPJ's 2010 International Press Freedom Award. 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 but that same reporting brought about his own imprisonment some three months later. Davari continues to be held in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin Prison, and reports say his health is deteriorating.
"Reporting the news does not amount to heresy or constitute propaganda against the state," CPJ wrote in its message to Khamenei. "A government that keeps its citizens in the dark by blocking independent journalism is violating its people's right to information about their daily lives. An uninformed society cannot be a 'free society,' as promised by the revolution."