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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

FEBRUARY 18, 2004
Posted: February 20, 2004

Yas e No


Tehran's Press Court temporarily suspended two Iranian reformist-leaning dailies. The suspensions came just before Iran's controversial parliamentary elections, which were conducted on February 20.

According to Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, spokesman for the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, the dailies Yas e No and Sharq both received notification on the evening of February 18 that the court had ordered them temporarily suspended. The move came after they published portions of an open letter that day from several reformists who had resigned from Parliament. The letter criticized Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, and asked if he was complicit in the decision to bar several reformists from running for parliamentary seats. Iranian authorities consider criticism of Khamenei intolerable, and therefore it rarely appears in Iranian newspapers.

Shamsolvaezin said that no other papers printed portions of the open letter, and, according to press reports, publications had received prior warning from officials not to print it. Yas e No and Sharq are both high-profile reformist dailies.

The court orders said the suspensions were temporary, but most newspapers in Iran that the Press Court has temporarily banned have not reopened.

OCTOBER 4, 2004
Posted: October 13, 2004

Emadeddin Baghi, freelance

Iranian officials confiscated Baghi's passport at Tehran's airport on October 4. Without giving an explanation, a state security agent informed the journalist that a court order barred him from traveling out of the country, according to news reports

The ban prevented Baghi from traveling to the United States and Europe where he was to take part in several meetings on human rights, according to press reports. An independent journalist, activist, and author of 20 books, Baghi heads the Committee for Defense of Prisoners Rights, an organization that helps defend intellectuals imprisoned for espousing pro-democracy ideas and opinions. He was scheduled to meet European Union officials working on human rights, and to attend meetings on the subject in the Netherlands, the United States, and Canada, according to Agence France-Presse.

Baghi was also scheduled to receive the Civil Courage Prize from the Northcote Parkinson Fund, which honors "steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk," at a ceremony in New York on October 12, according to the prize Web site.

Baghi was jailed by Iranian authorities in 2000 and held for nearly three years for publishing articles about the role of Intelligence Ministry agents in the 1998 murders of several Iranian intellectuals and dissidents. Since his release from prison in February 2003, Baghi has been subjected to ongoing surveillance and harassing court summonses related to his published work.

Posted: November 12, 2004

Mahboubeh Abasghalizadeh, Farzaneh, and online journalist
Fereshteh Qadi, Etemad, and online journalist
Reza Mir Ebrahimi, online journalist
Omid Memarian, online journalist
Amir Mojiri, online journalist
Shahram Rafizadeh, Etemad
Javad Gholam Tamimi, Mardomsalari
Hanif Mazrui, online journalist

The Iranian government began an extensive crackdown on the press, which has focused heavily on Internet journalists and led to numerous imprisonments without formal charge.
At least eight journalists have been detained since the crackdown began in early September, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, spokesman for the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, said in an interview with CPJ.

Abasghalizadeh, editor of the quarterly women's publication Farzaneh, was the most recent to be arrested when she was taken into custody on November 2. Abasghalizadeh also wrote for online publications.

Detained in October were Qadi, a journalist with the daily, Etemad, and a contributor to online journals; Ebrahimi, an online journalist; and Memarian, an online journalist and human rights activist. Mojiri, an online journalist, and Rafizadeh, an editor at Etemad, have been detained since early September.

Two journalists were released November 11 after weeks behind bars: Tamimi, a journalist with the daily Mardomsalari who had been detained since October; and Mazrui, an online journalist detained in early September.

Shamsolvaezin said the government has announced no formal charges against any of the journalists. A judiciary spokesman, he said, made vague accusations that the detained journalists had acted against national interests and were guilty of violating public morals.

Since April 2000, Iranian authorities have shuttered dozens of mostly pro-reformist newspapers, causing many journalists and readers to turn to the Internet as the last venue for independent reporting.