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Iranian authorities yet to fulfill promises to free imprisoned journalists

The International Federation of journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Association of Iranian journalists (AoIJ), to demand that the government of Iran follows up on its election promises by showing respect for press freedom and releasing all journalists imprisoned in the country.

According to the AoIJ, three more Iranian journalists have been imprisoned in the country in recent months – bringing the total number of Iranian journalists in jail to 23.

Two newspapers – Bahar and Aseman - have also been closed over the last six months, while the Tehran offices of the AoIJ remain closed despite repeated appeals for the country's President, Hassan Rohani, and his government to show their commitment to media freedom by reopening them.

The three journalists who have been arrested are all being held in Evin prison, in northwestern Tehran. Hossein Noraninejad, who had been studying for two years in Australia, returned to Iran in February and had his passport confiscated at the airport. He was then arrested on 21 April.

Serajoddin Mirdamadi, who had been living in Paris, visited Iran in September 2013, but also had his passport confiscated at the airport and was prohibited from travelling. He was arrested on 11 May.

And Saba Azar Pay, a woman journalist, was arrested at the offices of her magazine, Tajarete Farda, on 26 May.

“Since Rohani's election as President one year ago, the IFJ has repeatedly appealed to him and his government to send a strong message about media freedom in Iran by releasing journalists imprisoned in his country and reopening the offices of our affiliate, the Association of Iranian Journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

“There can be no more excuses. The time for action has come and the president must make good on his election promises by lifting the ban on the AoIJ offices and showing respect for the important role of journalists in the future of the Iranian nation.”

The AOIJ has expressed its deep concern regarding the stance taken by the Iran government. Ali Mazrooie, chair of the AoIJ, said: “We hoped that there would be a change in the situation of journalists and press freedom in Iran after the elections last summer and the establishment of a new government.

“Unfortunately the judicial system in Iran is still against press freedom and opposes the opening of our offices. We appeal to authorities to respect press freedom, free all detained and imprisoned journalists and reopen our offices so we can do our job and support the rights of our colleagues.”

Giving IFJ's full backing to the AoIJ and journalists in Iran, IFJ General Secretary, Beth Costa, said: “We call on the Iranian judicial system to uphold its responsibility to respect the basic human rights that are guaranteed by the Iranian constitution and release all journalists being held in Iran.”

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