News

March 3, 2003 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Five journalists arrested in less than a week


Five journalists have been arrested in less than a week at the very time that a delegation from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was investigating arbitrary arrests. Kambiz Kaheh and Said Mostaghasi, film magazine journalists, were arrested on 26 February ; Mohammad Abdi, chief editor of the monthly Honar Haftom, and Amir Ezati, of Mahnameh Film, on 28 February ; and Yasamin Soufi, a film music critic, on 1 March. 'At a time when a delegation from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, led by Louis Joinet, has just finished an investigative tour of Iran, these arrests appear as an insult to this body' said Robert Ménard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders. The organisation has asked the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, to immediately release these five journalists and eight others, including Alireza Eshraghi, a journalist imprisoned since the beginning of the year. At a press conference held at the end of his tour, Louis Joinet voiced his concern about the freedom of expression in Iran and stated that'solitary confinement' which is imposed 'on a large scale and for very long periods can be considered a prison in prison, which comprises very serious risks of arbitrariness.' On 26 February, Kambiz Kaheh, a journalist at the film magazines, Cinema-Jahan, Majaleh Film, Donyai Tassvir, and Cinema-é-No, and Said Mostaghasi, a journalist at Haftehnameh Cinema, were arrested at their homes, then transferred to an unknown place. Their homes have been searched. The authors of the arrest have not been identified. On 28 February, Mohammad Abdi, chief editor of the monthly Honar Haftom, and Amir Ezati, of Mahnameh Film, were arrested in the same conditions. On 1 March, Yasamin Soufi, a film music critic, went to a summons by Adareh Amaken (a section of the Teheran police usually tasked with 'moral' type crimes and considered close to the intelligence services), and was then transferred to an unknown place. The journalist Mohamed Mohsen Sazegara, arrested on 18 February, was for his part released on 22 February following a hunger strike. This arrest occurred a few days after his website www.alliran.net carried an article in which he criticised the Guide of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei. Since 12 January 2002, Alireza Eshraghi, a journalist at Hayat-é-No, has been held at Evine prison (Teheran). The journalist's mother, Mehri Zayanderodi Zadeh, is very worried and sent a letter on 17 January to President Khatami in which she insisted on the fact that the journalist, jailed for over forty days in an individual cell, has lost a lot of weight and is suicidal. During the week of 26 February, a hundred or so journalists sent a letter to the Iranian leaders calling for his release and that of his colleagues. The journalist's arrest and the closure of Hayat-é-No came after the publication of a caricature on 8 January past. The latter represented a white-bearded old man, wearing a long black cloak, sitting on the ground with the thumb of a giant hand pressing on his head (and the caption 'Roosevelt' on the sleeve). The drawing was published in 1937 in an American newspaper to illustrate President Roosevelt's pressure on the US Supreme Court.