Journalist sentenced to one year in jail, 30-year ban on writing
Mr. Bahram Ghasemi
Chargé d'Affaires of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Canada
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Canada
245 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2K2
June 16, 2010
Dear Mr Ghasemi,
I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.
CJFE is appalled by the recent decision by the Iranian regime to sentence award-winning journalist Jila Baniyaghoub to one year in jail and a 30-year ban on writing. Mrs. Baniyaghoub, a 39-year-old journalist, was arrested on June 20, 2009, along with her husband and released on bail two months later. She was charged with propaganda against the Islamic regime for her reports on last year's disputed presidential election and the protests which followed. Her husband, journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouie, had previously been sentenced to at least five years on security charges.
Baniyaghoub is at the forefront of the struggle for freedom of expression in Iran, and has won a number of prestigious awards, including CJFE's 2009 International Press Freedom Award and Reporters Without Borders Freedom of Expression Prize in April 2010. CJFE believes she has been targeted for her critical reporting and simply doing her job.
CJFE is alarmed at the number of journalists in Iran who have been targeted and imprisoned during a lengthy campaign of harassment and intimidation of critical Iranian journalists working domestically and abroad. As of June 1, at least 37 journalists are reportedly behind bars and an additional 19 free on short-term furloughs. Journalists face extremely harsh conditions in prison and many have been given unfair trials, coerced into false confessions and tortured.
CJFE calls on the Iranian government to honour the pledge made by Ayatollah Khomenei during the 1979 Iranian Revolution to protect freedom of expression and the press. CJFE also reminds Iranian authorities of their obligations under Article 19 of the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
We call for the sentence to be rescinded immediately, and we call for the release of all journalists and writers who have been imprisoned for simply exercising their right to free expression. We hope that your government will take immediate steps to end the repression of press freedom in Iran.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your reply.
Arnold Amber, President