(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, RSF protested the arrest of Taghi Rahmani, journalist with the reformist weekly "Omid-é-Zangan". RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard asked Shahroudi to "release the journalist, like the two others who were arrested the same day." RSF recalled that Iran, in which twelve journalists are behind bars, is now the Middle East country with the most journalists in prison. The organisation has placed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on its list of the world's twenty-two worst enemies of press freedom. RSF welcomed the news of Fariba Davoudi-Mohadjer's release.
According to information collected by RSF, on the evening of 11 March 2001, security agents raided a meeting at the home of Mohammad Bastehnaghar, a prominent dissident, where nearly thirty persons were gathered. They arrested Ahmad Zeid-Abadi of "Iran-é-Farda", Rahmani, Faremeh Govaraï of the banned weekly "Omid-é-Zangan" and several other persons. Although Zeid-Abadi and Govaraï were released the following day, Rahmani remains in detention. On 12 March, the head of the Tehran Revolutionary Court stated that "the detainees were conspiring to overthrow the Islamic government." Arrested on 7 August 2000, Zeid-Abadi was released on bail on 28 February. He is charged with, among other things, "defaming the Islamic Republic's Guide," Khamenei, "publicly insulting" the republic's founder, Imam Khomeini, and "anti-Islamic propaganda" (see IFEX alerts of 27 February 2001 and 8 August 2000).
RSF also recalled that on 11 March, Mohammad Hassan Alipour, publisher of the banned weekly "Aban", was given a six-month suspended sentence and was banned from working for the press for five years. He was convicted of "spreading lies to disturb public opinion." The journalist appealed the sentence.
On 12 March, Davoudi-Mohadjer, journalist for "Fath" and "Khordad", was released. She had been arrested on 15 February after a long search of her home by policemen. In the course of her arrest, policemen beat her and pulled off her chador (see IFEX alert of 20 February 2001).