Press freedom violations recounted in real time (from 1st July 2010)

Published on 9 September 2010

09.09.2010 - Situation

Lawyer for several imprisoned journalists, Nassrin Soutodeh, who was arrested on 5 September for alleged anti-government propaganda and plotting against the regime, was yesterday able to call her family from Evin prison. She told them that she is being held in solitary confinement, her lawyer, Mina Jafari, confirmed to Agence France-Presse.

The reformist weekly Nasir Bushehr, published in Bushehr province in the south of the country for the past 11 years, was banned on 7 September for “publishing articles contrary to the principles of Islam and the Islamic Republic” and “insulting regime leaders by publishing articles, photos and cartoons.” The ban was the decision of Iran’s Commission for press authorisation and surveillance, the censorship arm of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Orientation.

Cyber-feminist Jila Bani Yaghoob was summoned on 30 August by the 76th chamber of the Tehran court for “insulting the president”, her lawyer, Farideh Gheirat said. She was tried and convicted on the same charge on 8 June this year, and sentenced to one year in prison and a 30-year ban on working as a journalist by the Tehran revolutionary court’s 26th chamber. The prosecutor appealed the verdict and called for Yaghoob to be sentenced for her articles critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is the third time the journalist and women’s rights activist had been brought before the courts in less than a year.

Jila Bani Yaghoob and her husband Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee were both arrested on 20 June 2009 along with around 20 other journalists during demonstrations that followed the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad as president. She was freed on 24 August but her husband was jailed for five years.

30 July 2010 - Woman journalist freed on bail after being held for eight weeks

Azam Vismeh, an online journalist who works for Parlemannews, the official website of the pro-reform parliamentarians, was released on 21 July after paying 70 million toman (7,500 euros) in bail. Arrested at her home on 1 June, she had been held in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison.

2nd July 2010 - Two released and one freed on licence

Narges Mohammadi, journalist and spokesperson for the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, was released today on bail of 50 million tomans (40,000 euros). Intelligence ministry agents arrested the journalist, who works with Nobel peace prize laureate, Shirin Ebadi, at her home on the evening of 10 June 2010.

Reporters Without Borders also learned of the release on bail on 26 June, of Mahbobeh Khanssari, who works for the agency Cultural Heritage. She was arrested at her home on 1st June. On the other hand, Azam Vismeh, online journalist with Parlemannews (official website of parliamentary reformists), who was arrested at the same time as her, is still being held in solitary confinement and has been banned from receiving visitors.

Judicial authorities on 24 June allowed a release on licence to seriously ill journalist and documentary maker Mohammad Norizad. He worked for several years as an editorialist on the daily Kayhan, the conservatives leading press organ. Following the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president on 12 June 2009, the journalist, who also ran the blog, began to be openly critical of Iran’s Supreme Leader as well as the government and the country’s justice system. The 54th chamber of Tehran’s appeal court on 29 May confirmed his sentence of three and a half years in prison and 50 lashes for “publicity against the regime and insulting the authorities”.

Abdolreza Tajik, journalist and member of the Circle for the Defenders of Human Rights, was arrested on 12 June 2010. His family still has not been informed either of the place he is being detained or the reasons for his arrest.