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Thirty-three IFEX members condemn excessive prison sentence handed down to blogger Hossein Derakhshan

(CJFE/IFEX) - 1 October 2010 - We, the undersigned free expression organizations, have come together to express dismay at the sentence handed down to blogger Hossein Derakhshan. Although the prosecutor's call for the death penalty was not approved, the sentence against Hossein Derakhshan represents a serious violation of Iranian obligations under international law. It is clear that Derakhshan, charged with cooperating with hostile countries, spreading propaganda and insulting religious figures, was sentenced for merely enjoying the right to freedom of expression.

Reports from former cell mates indicate that Derakhshan has been tortured while in prison and has been the subject of harsh interrogations. We believe that Derakhshan remains at risk for as long as he is in prison, and that the extreme length of the sentence adds to the danger that he faces. Derakhshan has been held in Evin prison for almost two years, but his case only went to trial last summer.

The 19-and-a-half-year prison sentence was announced on the conservative website http://www.Mashreghnews.ir . The sentence also includes several fines – €30,750, US $2,900, and £200.

We are calling on the Iranian government to immediately release Derakhshan and meet its commitment to protect basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. We, the undersigned groups, also ask the international community to continue to hold Iran to its obligations and to support Iranian bloggers, journalists and writers to do their work without fear of imprisonment or reprisal.

Prison is no place for Hossein Derakhshan or for the dozens of other writers, journalists, academics and bloggers who continue to languish in Iran's jails.

Signed,

ARTICLE 19
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Committee to Protect Journalists
Index on Censorship
PEN Canada
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Free Media Movement
Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Institute of Mass Information
National Press Association
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création
Pacific Islands News Association
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
Privacy International
Public Association "Journalists"
Reporters Without Borders
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Press Freedom Committee
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