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Twelve IFEX members sign on to protest letter on behalf of detained journalist Akbar Ganji

(PEN Canada/CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a joint appeal signed by twelve IFEX members on behalf of detained journalist Akbar Ganji:


May 3, 2001

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Hojjat-ul-Islam Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies:

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the following members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) make this urgent appeal to you on behalf of investigative journalist and PEN Canada honorary member and CJFE 2000 International Press Freedom Award winner Akbar Ganji.

Ganji attended an academic and cultural conference entitled "Iran After the Elections" at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin in April 2000, and on his return to Iran was arrested. He was charged with acting against national security, spreading propaganda against the Islamic system and insulting religious sanctities.

We are deeply disturbed by the harsh prison sentence of ten years' imprisonment plus five years' internal exile given to Akbar Ganji after a trial held behind closed doors. The sentence includes four years for his attendance at the conference and six years for other charges. These charges include "spreading propaganda against the Islamic regime" for a series of articles he had written implicating leading figures in the 1998 murders of several dissidents and intellectuals.

We are also concerned about the safety of Akbar Ganji, as he was subjected to torture while awaiting sentencing, and currently his whereabouts in prison are unknown.

We consider Akbar Ganji to be detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. We urge you, as a matter of utmost urgency, to respect this fundamental human right, to drop the charges against Akbar Ganji and to annul his sentence. We call for his
immediate and unconditional release. Pending that release, we ask that his whereabouts be made public.

Yours sincerely,


Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec
Freedom House
Greek Helsinki Monitor
Journalists' Trade Union
Media Watch
Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression
PEN Canada
PEN American Center
West African Journalists Association
Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN
World Association of Newspapers

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
PEN Canada

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