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Kurdish freelancer arrested two days after show of Kurdish solidarity with two detained journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - Kurdish freelance journalist Saman Rasoulpour was arrested on 27 July 2008 at his home in Mahabad, in Iran's predominantly Kurdish northwest, two days after some 200 Kurds staged a peaceful demonstration in Mahabad to demand the overturning of the death sentences imposed on journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar, and Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar.

"We call on the authorities to explain why they arrested Rasoulpour and we demand his immediate release," Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the local authorities to stop harassing Kurdish journalists and to rescind the orders that have closed many Kurdish publications."

Aged 23, Rasoulpour writes for several newspapers and is a member of the executive committee of the Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights in Kurdistan. He was arrested at his home by intelligence ministry agents who confiscated many documents and took him to an unknown location.

Hassanpour, 28, and Botimar, 30, were sentenced to death on 16 July 2007 by a revolutionary court in the Kurdish city of Marivan on charges of "subversive activities against national security," "spying" and "separatist propaganda." Their convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court in Tehran on procedural grounds but a Marivan court reimposed Botimar's death sentence in April 2008 while Hassanpour is awaiting a new trial.

A revolutionary court in Tehran has meanwhile sentenced Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, the former editor of "Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan" (a Kurdish weekly closed in 2004), to 11 years in prison for creating a human rights organisation in Iran's Kurdish northwest. He has been held in the capital's Evin prison since his arrest in July 2007. The sentence was issued on 22 June.

Journalist Sedigh Minai of the weekly "Asou" was released on 28 July after being held for 21 days. He was arrested on 2 July after responding to a summons from prosecutors in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj.

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