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World's press calls for freedom for jailed Iranian journalists

(WAN-IFRA/IFEX) - Düsseldorf, Germany, 7 June 2010 - The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) on Monday (7 June) called on the Iranian government to immediately release all imprisoned journalists and writers and end its repression of press freedom and free expression in the country.

"The Iranian leadership undermines its own claims to democratic legitimacy by jailing journalists and limiting freedom of expression," the Board of WAN-IFRA said in a resolution issued during its meeting in Düsseldorf, Germany, on Monday.

About 50 journalists are in prison in Iran, more than a third of all journalists behind bars worldwide. Most are being held on vague anti-state charges, face lengthy prison sentences under harsh conditions, and are banned from writing.

Among them is Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, laureate of the 2010 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom, who was sentenced to six years imprisonment, along with a lifetime ban on practicing his profession as a journalist.

The Board of WAN-IFRA called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to immediately release all jailed journalists, ensure that their sentences are overturned, end repression of free speech, and commit to uphold international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

The full resolution can be read at:

WAN-IFRA issued five other resolutions to:

- Call on the Governments of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda - the Francophone nations of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa - to immediately repeal insult and criminal defamation laws to ensure a free, strong and independent press is permitted a central role safeguarding accountable and effective democratic governance (the full resolution can be read at ).

- Call on the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, to do everything in his power to end violence against journalists and to halt the climate of impunity enjoyed by those who murder and attack them ( ).

- Condemn intimidation and violence against journalists in Sri Lanka and call on the government to adhere to its Constitution, which recognises freedom of expression as a basic human right ( ).

- Urge the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to take all necessary steps to reverse the continuing repression of press freedom in the country ( ).

- Call on the President of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, to decisively act to resolve the murders of journalists in the country ( ).

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