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New crackdown on women journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - A recent crackdown on women journalists in Iran has seen two arrested and held for nearly two weeks and five others summoned before the Tehran Revolutionary Court. Still another, who works for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), has been barred from leaving the country.

"The regime is taking a tougher line with women journalists," RSF said. "These measures are illegal and in violation of national and international legal standards. We call on the Iranian authorities to put a stop to the political and legal harassment of the media."

Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, a journalist and blogger ( http://kharzar.blogfa.com ) and Nahid Keshavarz, a journalist who writes for the we4change and zanestan websites, were arrested in Tehran on 2 April 2007 while covering a demonstration by supporters of the "million signatures" campaign for the repeal of laws that discriminate against women. After being held in Evin prison in north Tehran, they were finally freed on 14 April on payment of 20 million toumen (16,000 euros) in bail.

Five other journalists and women's rights activists - Asieh Amini, who writes a blog ( http://varesh.blogfa.com ), Jila Bani Yaghoub, who writes for the daily "Sarmayeh" and the irwomen website, Jelveh Javaheri, who writes for we4change, journalist Noushine Ahmadi Khorasani, and Sussan Tahmassebi, who edits we4change's English-language pages - were summoned to the Tehran Revolutionary Court between 14 and 16 April and charged with "violating national security," "publicity against the Islamic Republic," and "participating in an unauthorised demonstration."

They were arrested on 4 March for taking part in a peaceful demonstration outside this court. Some of them were held for more than 10 days. After leaving prison, they all wrote articles for their respective media outlets criticising their arrests and the Islamic Republic's abusive treatment of women's rights campaigners.

In an interview for the daily "Etemad" on 14 April, Intelligence Minister Mohseni Ejehi described the movements as "subversive" saying they were "on the payroll of foreigners."

Parnaz Azima, a journalist with Radio Farda, the Farsi-language affiliate of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, meanwhile reported that the authorities are still refusing to return the passport that was confiscated from her on her arrival at Tehran airport on 25 January. Azima, who has Iranian and US nationality, said she had turned down an offer to work with the intelligence services. This is the second time her ability to travel has been restricted. The intelligence services prevented her from leaving the country for three weeks last year.

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