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Forty-one journalists in prison after a month of unrest

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has expressed great concern over the growing repression of journalists and cyber-dissidents in Iran after a month of post-election protests and called for them all to be freed at once. Five more were recently arrested, bringing to 41 the number of journalists currently in prison.

"Four of the latest five detained have been imprisoned in a secret place and like all the others their families have had no news of their condition," RSF said. "In most such cases, prisoners are not allowed visitors and their lawyers have no access to their case-files.

"Iran is already the world's biggest prison for journalists and cyber-dissidents and is on the way to becoming the world's most dangerous place for them to operate," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

The five most recently arrested include photographer Tohid Bighi, who worked for the website Mashroteh (which supported reformist presidential candidate Mehedi Karoubi), who was arrested for no apparent reason on 11 July 2009. Photographer Majid Saidi ( ), who worked for several national and international news agencies, was arrested at his home the day before by intelligence ministry officials. He had reported from Afghanistan for "Time" magazine in 2001.

Henghameh Shahidi, editor of the blog Paineveste, who also worked for reformist publications, was arrested in similar circumstances on 29 June, as was another woman journalist, Somaieh Nosrati, editor of the parliamentary pages of the newspapers "Teheran Emoroz" and "Hayat No", on 21 June. All four were taken to a secret place.

Said Matinpour, of the Azeri-language weekly "Yarpagh", was thrown in prison on 11 July after appearing before the Tehran Revolutionary Court. A month earlier, he had been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for "having links with foreigners" and "anti-regime propaganda."

Matinpour was previously arrested at his home in the northwestern city of Zanjan on 28 May 2007, held at Tehran's Evin prison and freed on 26 February 2008 after posting bail of €500,000. He has had back and stomach ailments because of his time in Evin, where 19-year-old prisoner Sohrab Arabi died on 11 July as a result of torture.

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