In a letter addressed to the head of the magistracy, Ayatollah Sharoudi, Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) protested against the arrest of Ahmad Gabel, a journalist for Hayat-é-No. "This jailing is new evidence that the authorities will not put an end to arrests in 2002. Moreover, we are worried about the plight of seven journalists whose trial is to begin soon ", declared Robert Ménard, General Secretary of RSF. "We request that you release Ahmad Gabel along with the seventeen other journalists who are currently imprisoned in Iran", he added.
According to the information collected by RSF, Ahmad Gabel was arrested on 31 December 2001, upon orders of the Special Court for the Clergy. A journalist for Hayat-é-No, Ahmad Gabel also wrote editorials in many reformist publications and regularly had interviews with foreign radio stations. He is known for his strong criticism of the conservative guard, most notably of Ali Khamenei, the Guide of the Islamic Republic. Several hours before Gabel's arrest, Radio Freedom had interviewed him.
In addition, on 8 January, behind closed doors, the trial of seven more journalists will begin: Reza Alijani, Ezatollah Sahabi, Hoda Saber, Saide Madani, Ahmad Zeid-Abadi (Iran-é-Farda), Taghi Rahmani (Omid-é-Zangan), and Ali-Reza Redjaï (Asr-é-Azadegan). They are accused of "blasphemy", which is punishable by death, and four of the journalists are in prison. As of yet, their lawyers have not received access to their files.
RSF sends out a reminder that Iran currently holds the unfortunate record of being the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with eighteen people behind bars. Ali Khamenei, the Guide of the Islamic Republic, is one of thirty-nine attackers of liberty of the press in the world, according to the data of RSF.