CPJ voices concern as journalists are released

New York, May 18, 2011The release of foreign journalists held in Iran and Libya today is a very positive development in a region where the press has been under attack since social upheaval began in Tunisia early this year, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

“We are relieved that these journalists are free. It is now time for the Iranian and Libyan authorities to review the cases of dozens of journalists who remain imprisoned mainly for attempting to report on historic developments in the Middle East and North Africa,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Iran today released Al-Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who holds U.S., Canadian and Iranian citizenship. In Libya, the released journalists are: Americans James Foley and Clare Morgana Gillis along with Manuel Varela of Spain, and a fourth person identified as British citizen Nigel Chandler.

At least 34 journalists remain imprisoned in Iran, which together with China, is the world’s top jailer of journalists, according to CPJ research.  Parvaz, who was originally detained upon arrival in Syria on April 29 to cover demonstrations in the country, was held incommunicado until her release today. The journalists freed in Libya were held since early April.