Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that leading journalist and prisoner rights activist Emadoldin Baghi has been freed on bail after six months in detention. He is to be tried on 4 July. The press freedom organisation is nonetheless concerned about the fate of another journalist, Abdolreza Tajik, whose family does not know why he was arrested on 12 June or where he has been held since then.
“Baghi’s conditional release after six months in solitary confinement, in appalling conditions and subjected to arbitrary interrogations, is obviously good news,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But is Iran is still holding 36 other journalists and bloggers, which is more than any other country in the Middle East.”
As he left prison, Baghi told Reporters Without Borders: “I have felt as if I was on parole ever since the first time I was released in 2003. I am pleased to be out of prison today but my thoughts are with the other journalists and detainees still in jail. Your efforts and the efforts of other human rights organisations are unquestionably of great importance for the fate of detainees.”
A tireless campaigner against the death penalty, Baghi, 46, was arrested on 28 December 2009 for the latest of several spells he has spent in prison since 2000. He had to been hospitalised several times but, despite payment of a large amount of bail, he was not allowed to spend the Iranian New Year with his family on 21 March.
Tajik is a member of the Tehran-based Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an organisation founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. He used to write for several publications that have been shut down by the authorities, including Bahar (closed in 2001), Hambastegi (closed in 2003) and Shargh (closed in 2008).
His family has had no news of him since he was arrested for the third time in less than a year on 12 June. Another person who works closely with Ebadi, Defenders of Human Rights Centre spokesperson Narges Mohammadi, was arrested at her home by intelligence ministry officials on the evening of 10 June.