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Journalist Emadoldin Baghi subjected to mental and physical mistreatment since arrest

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern about the conditions in which journalist Emadoldin Baghi has been held since his arrest on 14 October 2007. Facing new charges of "propaganda against the government" and "publishing secret government documents," he has been subjected to mental and physical mistreatment.

"The Iranian authorities stop at nothing in their hounding of Baghi," the press freedom organisation said. "Held on trumped-up charges for unclear reasons, Baghi is being subjected to interrogations of an unacceptable nature. Iran continually violates the rights of its detainees, subjecting them to mistreatment with the sole aim of extracting confessions."

Baghi was arrested on 14 October to serve a one-year sentence he was given in November 2004 for writing a book that accused the Iranian authorities of involvement in the murders of intellectuals and journalists in 1998. But new charges have been brought against him in a new trial.

After an initial hearing, he was transferred to section 209 of Tehran's Evin prison and placed in solitary confinement. Thereafter, he has been interrogated while blindfolded and with his wrists bound, although this practice is expressly forbidden in Iran. He was taken before the 1st chamber of the Tehran revolutionary court again, on 22 October, without his lawyers being notified. Iranian journalists have in the past been forced to make false confession, sometimes publicly, after being subjected to repeated intimidation.

Baghi has a long history of arrests and trials. He first went to prison in 2000, when he was given a three-year sentence for "attacking national security." Then he got the one-year sentence in November 2004. And he recently received another three-year sentence for "activities against national security" and "publicity in favour of the regime's opponents" (see IFEX alerts of 17 and 11 May and 8 February 2005, 29 June and 5 March 2004 and 8 December 2003).

As an active campaigner against the death penalty, Baghi was awarded the French Republic's Human Rights Prize in 2005 by France's National Consultative Commission on Human Rights.

Iran continues to be the Middle East's biggest prison for the media, with a total of nine journalists detained.

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