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Harassment of journalists and media ongoing

Mahmud Shokraieh was sentenced to 25 lashes for portraying a local parliamentary representative as a footballer in a cartoon
Mahmud Shokraieh was sentenced to 25 lashes for portraying a local parliamentary representative as a footballer in a cartoon

(RSF/IFEX) - 10 May 2012 - Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the range of methods that the Iranian authorities use to keep intensifying their harassment of journalists and media.

In the past two weeks, two journalists were arrested to begin serving previously imposed jail sentences and a third was sentenced to 25 lashes, while a monthly was suspended for two months. Many detained journalists, such as Narges Mohammadi, are being subjected to inhumane and degrading conditions and denied their most basic rights.

Journalist Mahssa Amrabadi, the wife of imprisoned journalist Masoud Bastani, was arrested yesterday after receiving a summons to report to the prosecutor's office at Evin prison. She was sentenced by a Tehran revolutionary court on 20 February to five years in prison (one definite and four conditional) for giving interviews and writing articles in support of her husband and demanding his release.

She was also sentenced by another Tehran revolutionary court on 14 October 2010 to a year in prison for “anti-government propaganda.” Her husband, who used to work for the daily Farhikhteghan, is in Rajaishahr prison. Arrested on 4 July 2009, he was tried along with many other journalists in the Stalinist-style mass trials that the government began holding in Tehran in August 2009. A revolutionary court sentenced him to six years in prison on 1 November 2009.

Reza Ansari Rad, a journalist with various pro-reform media, was summoned on 2 May to begin serving the one-year jail sentence which he received in 2010 on a charge of “anti-government propaganda” and which was upheld by a Tehran appeal court in March.

Mahmud Shokraieh, a cartoonist with the weekly Nameh Amir in the central city of Arak, was notified on 3 May that he has been sentenced to 25 lashes for portraying a local parliamentary representative as a footballer in a cartoon. The court ruled that Shokraieh had “insulted” the parliamentarian, who sued both him and the newspaper's editor. The editor was acquitted.

Seid Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabai, the editor of the monthly Nasimebidar, was notified by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on 30 April that his publication had been suspended for two months by the Tehran prosecutor's office the previous day for failing to respect the High Council for National Security's directives.

Each week, the council sends the media a list of subjects to be avoided that vary according to political developments. The latest issue of Nasimebidari included an interview with former President Mohammad Khatami, who is a reformist.

Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the health of Narges Mohammadi, a journalist and spokesperson for the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, who was arrested on 21 April. She is being held in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin prison, a section controlled by the intelligence ministry, and her family says she has had a nervous breakdown.

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