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Two journalists arrested as intimidation continues

(RSF/IFEX) - Journalists and bloggers are still being arrested in Iran. The latest victims are Tahereh Riahai of the daily "Jahan Eghtesad" ("Economic World"), arrested on 1 December 2009 in Tehran, and Farhad Sharfai, a blogger who defends women's rights, arrested on 2 December in Khoramabad. Journalists in various cities have also been summoned for questioning.

"The press freedom situation is getting worse by the day in Iran," Reporters Without Borders said. "Journalists who have chosen not to the leave the country are being constantly threatened or summoned by the intelligence services, including the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards. Some have been given long prison sentences at the end of completely illegal judicial proceedings."

The press freedom organisation added: "With a total of 28 journalists and bloggers currently detained, Iran is the Middle East's biggest prison for the media. We urge the Iranian authorities to release all of them."

It is not known where Riahai, 25, has been held since she was arrested on 1 December. Colleagues say her family was warned not to say anything about her arrest. Business journalists such as Riahia are currently being targeted by the regime.

Saeed Leylaz, another business specialist, has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court, his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh-Tabatabaie was told on 2 December. Until his arrest last June, Leylaz edited the daily "Sarmayeh", which was finally closed by the authorities a month ago.

Sharfai, who writes for women's rights websites as well as keeping his own blog ( http://terrace.persianblog.ir ), was arrested by men in plain-clothes at his workplace in Khoramabad (in the western province of Lorestan) on 2 December.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned of journalists being summoned by revolutionary courts or by the intelligence ministry in cities such as Mashhad, Isfahan, Shiraz and Tabriz. In all these cases, they were only released after several hours of interrogation and intimidation and, in some cases, after payment of bail, and are now awaiting trial.

Negar Sayeh, a young woman journalist who was arrested at her home by intelligence ministry agents on 29 October, was finally released on 3 December. She is also awaiting trial.
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