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IFJ condemns expulsion of "El País" correspondent

(IFJ/IFEX) - 11 October 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the decision by Iran to cancel the accreditation of Ángeles Espinosa, the correspondent of the Spanish daily "El Pais", who was ordered to leave the country within two weeks.

"This is another attempt by the Iranian regime to silence independent reporting of events in the country," says Aidan White, secretary general of the IFJ. "Espinosa is being expelled purely because she is a witness to the impact of the regime's policies. Like others who have been thrown out, she is a victim of secrecy and intolerance on the part of leaders who are afraid to subject themselves to democratic scrutiny."

The IFJ supports its Spanish affiliate, FAPE (Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas de España), which also condemned the expulsion order and described it as "a blatant repression of principled, objective and ethical journalism."

In its communiqué, FAPE says Espinosa's expulsion is linked to the case of Sakineh Ashtiani, the Iranian woman condemned to death by stoning, and an action which mobilised international opinion in protest at the sentence. The correspondent first drew the authorities' attention in July when she published an interview with Ahmad Montazeri, son of a dissident ayatollah, says FAPE. At the time, her passport and press card were confiscated. She recently received her passport with her residence visa cancelled and an instruction to leave Iran in less than two weeks.

The IFJ says that up to 30 Iranian journalists are currently in jail while many more have fled the country. At least 20 newspapers have been closed and thousands of blogs have been blocked.

"The regime of President Ahmadinejad's hostile attitude to press freedom is leading the country on the disastrous path to a closed society," added White. "It is a tragedy for the people of Iran and it will further undermine the country's standing around the world."

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