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Journalist prevented from leaving the country to collect prize

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders expressed concern after a freelance journalist, Taghi Rahmani, was prevented from leaving Iran as he prepared to travel to Denmark on 13 January 2007 to receive a prize awarded by the local section of the freedom of expression organisation, PEN International.

"We are very disturbed by this step, which has no legal basis," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "A ban on leaving the country, often used in Iran against independent voices, is designed above all to cut journalists off from the external world. This harassment is also intended to punish them for having links with foreign media and organisations", it added.

Rahmani told Reporters Without Borders that he had been arrested on the tarmac at Tehran international airport, moments before boarding the plane for Copenhagen. He added that the authorities had also seized his passport.

The journalist, who is a leading press freedom activist, has worked for several Iranian publications, which has brought him into frequent conflict with the regime. Between 1981 and 2005, he was sentenced to a total of 5,000 days in prison for articles he had written.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders repeated its concern about the plight of Kaveh Javanmard, a journalist with the weekly "Karfto", held secretly for exactly one month. His family has not received any news of him since his arrest, on 18 December 2006, from his home in Sanandej (Iranian Kurdistan) by intelligence ministry agents (see IFEX alert of 11 January 2007).

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