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Iranian journalist summoned to serve one-year prison sentence

(RSF/IFEX) - 6 September 2012 - Reporters Without Borders expressed outrage and concern over the arrest this month of a women dissident journalist, who is now serving a prison sentence. The organization is also worried about the safety of other previously imprisoned journalists.

Jila Bani Yaghoob, journalist, blogger and women's rights activist, was summoned to Evin prison on 2 September to serve a one-year sentence handed down in 2010.

Yaghoob's initial arrest also came in 2009. She had been detained along with her journalist husband, Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee, and then freed on bail while awaiting sentencing.

Amoee, for his part, was sentenced to five years in prison for writing articles critical of the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The journalist was transferred last June to Rajai Shahr prison, which is notorious for murders, rapes and torture.

The couple are not the only husband-and-wife journalists in prison. Mahsa Amrabadi, a journalist imprisoned since 9 May on a two-year sentence is behind bars at the same time as her journalist husband, Masoud Bastani. Arrested in 2009, he is serving a six-year sentence.

Reporters Without Borders also expresses its concern for the fate of Issa Saharkhiz, editor of several independent publications, notably the monthly Aftab, which has been suspended. His family reports that the imprisoned journalist has been on hunger strike since 29 August to protest his transfer from a hospital to Evin prison.

Saharkhiz, who has been hospitalized repeatedly while in prison, was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to three years by the 15th branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on a charge of producing anti-regime writings. In August, 2011, he received an additional two-year sentence for his pre-arrest journalistic activities.

According to his family, Saharkhiz has been placed in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin, which is run by the intelligence service, and has been on hunger strike since 29 August.

The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the unenviable world record for imprisonment of women journalists and bloggers. Since 12 June 2009, more than 57 of them have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to seven years.

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