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Former journalist dies in custody

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is saddened to learn that former journalist Alireza Eftekhari died on 15 June 2009, three days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection. The exact circumstances of his death are still not known but RSF has been told he died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage after being beaten. His family was not given the body until 13 July.

Eftekhari, 29, worked for "Abrar Economy", a newspaper owned by the Abrar publishing house, for five years, leaving in 2008.

"Eftekhari is the first journalist to die in the course of the crackdown launched by the Iranian authorities after the results of the 12 June presidential election were announced," Reporters Without Borders said, offering its condolences to his family. "We urge the authorities to shed light on the cause of this death. We are very worried about all the other journalists who are still being held, as their most fundamental rights are being violated."

Reporters Without Borders also notes that journalist Shadi Sadr was freed on 28 July but regrets that no journalist's name appeared on the lists of detainees to be released following President Ahmadinejad's announcement that 140 detainees would be freed by 7 August.

Reporters Without Borders has not yet been able to confirm reports of the release of Saeed Hajjarian, a former newspaper editor who is severely handicapped. The reports were posted on conservative websites on the morning of 29 July but were denied by his relatives. Members of his family who have been allowed to visit him in prison say he was tortured following his arrest on 15 June. His state of health is extremely worrying.

Publication of the pro-reform newspaper "Sedai Edalat" was meanwhile suspended by the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, on 27 July, two days after it published a commentary about the work of the leading Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlo that was deemed to be a "clear insult to Ayatollah Khomeiny."

In an apology published the day after the commentary, the newspaper said it had been included in the issue by mistake. Newspapers can be suspended and prosecuted under article 27 of the press law, which forbids any "insult against the Guide, Founder of the Islamic Republic and Grand Ayatollah."

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