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RSF condemns ongoing crackdown on journalists, media

(RSF/IFEX) - 15 December 2011 - Reporters Without Borders condemns the unremitting crackdown on journalists and the media in Iran. The Tehran monthly Chashm Andaz has been closed down and the weekly Saymareh, in Kudasht in the western province of Lorestan, has been forced to cease activity as a result of judicial pressure.

The press freedom organization has also learned that a journalist has been jailed and the life of a blogger is in danger after he went on hunger strike in prison.

On 7 December Lotfolah Meysami, the managing editor of Chashm Andaz ("Panorama" in Farsi) was told by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that his magazine's licence had been withdrawn as a result of an order issued by the Tehran revolutionary court on 23 November.

Meysami himself was banned from working as a journalist for five years. He protested against the decision, made at a hearing of which he was not informed. Meysami has been summoned before Tehran courts several times in recent years.

Saymareh, an influential weekly in the west of the country, was forced to cease its activities as a result of pressure by local political leaders. In its 18 September edition, it published a humorous article under the headline "Only dictators and donkeys make no mistakes", which attacked dictators and their politics.

Several local leaders said the article insulted the sacredness of Islam. They began a campaign of harassment and launched proceedings against the newspaper.
Saymareh decided to suspend publication pending the outcome of the case. At a hearing on 27 November, the jury did not allow the newspaper's lawyer to finish his defence plea.

"This is a parody of justice," Reporters Without Borders said. "The courts in the Islamic Republic issue judgements on the media in the absence of the accused and juries are on the side of the organs of repression.

"Journalists are arrested on the orders of biased courts, held in solitary confinement and deprived of their rights and any opportunity for redress. Their lives are endangered."

The blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, arrested a year ago and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, has been on hunger strike since 12 December in protest against the conditions of his detention. Maleki, a human rights activist, has undergone two kidney operations and is in frail condition, yet he has not received the necessary medical treatment and his life is now in danger.

"The persecution of this netizen by the court system and the Intelligence Ministry is unacceptable," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hold the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, and the Tehran chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, responsible for his life."

Reporters Without Borders has learned of the arrest of Farshad Ghorbanpour, a journalist who has written for reformist newspapers such as Sharvand Emrooz (closed down in 2009), Farhikhtegan and Mehrnameh.

He was previously sentenced to one year's imprisonment and fined 50 million rials (4,000 euros) by the Tehran revolutionary court for anti-government propaganda, acting against national security and illegally receiving money from foreign-based news organizations. The day after his arrest he told his family he was being transferred to the capital's Evin prison.

The blogger Rojin Mohammadi, arrested in Tehran on 21 November after she was summoned to the prosecutor's office in Evin prison, was released on 10 December.

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