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Several journalists arrested, others based abroad receive death threats

(RSF/IFEX) - Mir Hossein Mousavi, owner of the suspended newspaper "Kalameh Sabaz", his wife, author Zahra Rahnavard, Mehdi Karoubi, owner of the suspended publication "Etemad Melli", and his wife have been arrested.

Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, the Tehran public prosecutor, told a press conference on 27 February 2011 that the two newspaper owners were under house arrest and barred from using telephones or the Internet. He did not say where they were being held or why they had been arrested.

Some reports claim the two couples are being held at a military prison in central Tehran.

In a separate development, several Iranian journalists and writers living in exile have received death threats from Iranian intelligence agencies since 24 February.

Reporters Without Borders called on the Iranian government to reveal where Mousavi, Karoubi and their wives are being held, and why. Article 32 of the Iranian constitution requires this information to be released within 24 hours, it said.

The organisation also asked the United Nations Human Rights Council to appoint a special envoy to investigate the state of human rights in Iran.

The Iranian government often resorts to arbitrary arrests and keeps political prisoners in solitary confinement, which is an infringement of international law.

Several journalists and other Iranians living in exile have received anonymous threats by telephone, text message or email, such as "Stop your actions against the Islamic Republic or you will suffer the ultimate punishment" and "We order you to stop, otherwise you will pay."

Many reports of threats, summonses and anonymous phone calls from intelligence ministry agents have reached Reporters Without Borders in the past year and Iranians have been given police protection in several European countries. They have asked not to be identified. The organisation points out that their families in Iran have suffered harassment from the authorities.

After the 1979 revolution the Iranian government executed over 200 political opponents living abroad, most of them in Europe. The killers were never brought to trial because of blackmail by the Iranian government.

One of the few cases that came to court in a western country was that of exiled journalist and writer Reza Mazlouman, who was murdered on 27 May 1996 at his home in Créteil, France, for "insulting Islam and the Prophet." His killer was never arrested but an Iranian suspected of working for the Iranian secret service, Ahmad Jayhooni, was charged with involvement in the murder.
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