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Inhumane treatment of journalists detained in Iran persists

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its deep concern about the conditions in which many Iranian journalists are being held.

Mehdi Karoubi, 76, a dissident theologian, former parliamentary speaker and owner of the closed newspaper Etemad Melli, was transferred to an unknown destination on 31 July after an angioplasty operation in a Tehran hospital. It was the third time he had been hospitalized in a week with various ailments including a heart condition.

Like Mir Hossein Mousavi, the owner of the closed newspaper Kalameh Sabaz, and Mousavi's wife, the writer Zahra Rahnavard, Karoubi has been under house arrest since February 2011. But Mousavi and Rahnavard have been held at their home, on the intelligence ministry's orders, whereas Karoubi has been held at an unknown location.

“It is worse than a prison,” one of Karoubi's relatives told Reporters Without Borders. “Prisoners, even those in solitary confinement, are allowed into the courtyard once a day, but he is only allowed to walk in the building's car park.”

“Neither national law nor international standards offer any legal basis for the arbitrary detention of Karoubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Their detention is a gross violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as they are being denied the right to a fair trial. We are also worried about their health. The Islamic Republic must end this situation.”

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the Islamic Republic's violation of the rights of prisoners of opinion, including imprisoned journalists who could shed light on the blogger Sattar Beheshti's death in detention in November 2012.

Ali Nazeri's transfer on 18 July from Tehran's Evin prison to a prison in the northeastern city of Zabol has been the subject of protests in Evin prison's Section 350 ever since. Friction between Evin's guards and political prisoners, especially the journalists and netizens held in this section, has been growing steadily. Riot police have even been used to stifle protests.

Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, a journalist held since March 2010 who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in April 2011 for journalistic activities, has also been the subject of a transfer. Without any explanation or legal grounds being given, he was transferred to Karon prison in the southern city of Ahvaz, one of the worst prisons in the country, on 27 July.

Nasr was one of the prisoners who saw Beheshti during the 12 hours he spent in Evin prison's Section 350 on 31 October 2012, four days before his death in police custody.

Nasr was previously transferred to Karon prison on 15 November 2012 but was sent back to Evin on the Tehran prosecutor-general's orders the next day and was placed in an isolation cell. He went on a hunger strike at the time against these punitive measures.

The authorities are continuing to persecute Hossein Ronaghi Malki, a netizen and human rights activist who was arrested in December 2010 and who is serving a 17-year jail sentence despite having undergone several kidney operations and being in very poor health.

Malki was let out of Evin prison to receive medical treatment but was ordered to return on 22 May 2013. His father wrote an open letter to the judicial authorities at the time, accusing them of negligence towards his son. “He is ill and must receive appropriate treatment,” he wrote.

One of the reasons for the unrelenting treatment received by Malki could be linked to recent statements by Beheshti's mother. She said that Malki, who was one of the prisoners who saw Beheshti in Section 350, could testify in court and could confirm that Beheshti was mistreated and tortured during interrogation by the police.

She also said that her family's lawyer, Ghiti Pourfazel, had been subjected to questioning by intelligence ministry officials in an attempt to silence her (Pourfazel). Since then, Pourfazel has been unable to give any interviews to the media.

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