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Another blogger arrested

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls for the release Ali Asguar Jamali, a blogger and doctor based in the northern city of Qasvin who has been arrested along with other activists for "inciting actions against national security including protests and insults against government officials by means of publications and meetings," the news agency Fars reported on 2 September 2009.

Fars, which supports the militant Revolutionary Guards, quoted a Qasvin judge as saying Jamali was arrested as the head of the group of activists and as a "doctor having immoral relations with his patients." The court also claimed that "alcohol and evidence of membership of counter-revolutionary groups were also found in his office."

Baseless accusations are routinely made against journalists and bloggers who are arrested for using their right to free expression. Jamali, who defends workers' rights and treats the poor free of charge, keeps a blog called "DR social-democrat" ( http://pezeshk55833.blogfa.com/ ).

"This latest arrest of a blogger shows that that there has been no let-up in the repression," Reporters Without Borders said. "The Revolutionary Guards and their allies within the judicial system continue to bring grotesque charges against journalists, bloggers and human rights activists."

The press freedom organisation added: "We also call on the authorities to stop forcing opposition personalities such as the theologian and blogger Mohammad Li Abtahi to make confessions or disavow their views. Who could seriously believe he would have written the blog entries he has been making from prison if he had not been under extreme pressure?"

Dubbed the "Blogging Mullah," Abtahi was arrested on 16 June and accused of being among those responsible for the street protests that followed the disputed 12 June presidential election. Since his arrest, he has been allowed to confess his guilt in entries in his blog that are receiving a great deal of publicity by Fars. But few in the Iranian blogosphere doubt that they are being dictated for him.

Meanwhile, the official website of Mehedi Karoubi ( http://www.etemademelli.ir/ ), one of the leading opposition candidates in the June presidential election, has been inaccessible in Iran since the start of last week. The site had been reporting cases of mistreatment and rape in Iran's prisons.

Iran is on the Reporters Without Borders list of Enemies of the Internet. A total of 26 journalists and five cyber-dissidents are currently detained, and the authorities boast of blocking access to hundreds of thousands of websites. It was ranked 166th out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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