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Iranian Kurdish journalist Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand detained; WiPC fears ill treatment

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of Iranian Kurdish journalist Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, who was arrested on 1 July 2007. International PEN fears that he is being detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and if so calls on the Iranian authorities to release him with immediate effect. International PEN is also seeking reassurances of his well being from the Iranian government. International PEN is deeply concerned about an apparent pattern of repression against journalists and human rights activists in Iranian Kurdistan, which has been ongoing since unrest broke out in the Kurdish areas of Iran in July 2005, and was violently suppressed by the authorities.

According to PEN's information, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, editor of the banned weekly "Payam-e mardom-e Kurdestan", was arrested on 1 July 2007 at his place of work in Tehran by plain-clothed security officers. Following his arrest, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was initially taken to his house in Tehran, where security officers confiscated three computers, books, photographs, family films and personal documents, before taking him away to the Intelligence Ministry's Section 209 of Evin Prison, where he is feared to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment. He is believed to have had no contact with his family since his arrest. No reason has been given for his arrest, although it could be linked to a previous one-year prison sentence which he has never served.
Amnesty International gives the following background:
"Chair of the Kurdish Human Rights Organization (RMMK) based in Tehran, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, is also the editor of 'Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan' ('Kurdistan People's Message') a weekly published in Kurdish and Persian, which was banned on 27 June 2004 after only 13 issues for 'disseminating separatist ideas and publishing false reports'. Convicted of 'disseminating tribal issues and publishing provocative articles' and 'spreading lies with the intention of upsetting public opinion' by a Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, western Iran, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand received on 18 August 2005 a suspended prison sentence of 18 months, and a five-year ban on working as a journalist. His conviction was reportedly upheld on appeal, but the suspended prison sentence was increased to one year's actual imprisonment. In September 2006 he was summoned to begin his prison sentence, but remained free pending an appeal against his conviction to the Supreme Court."

Kabudvand has reportedly written two books on democracy and a third on the women's movement in Iran, which were not given publishing licences.

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