News

August 1, 2009 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Journalists among those being tried for participating in demonstrations


Reporters Without Borders is deeply concerned about the travesty of a trial that began today in Tehran, in which the defendants are accused of organising or participating in the demonstrations that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory in the 12 June presidential election. At least two journalists are among those accused of organising the demonstrations. They face sentences ranging from five years in prison to the death penalty. “The rights of the defendants are yet again being violated, with just a few defence lawyers being allowed into the courtroom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The revolutionary court conducting the trial is respecting neither Iranian nor international standards. This is not due process; it is the continuation of the interrogations in another form. We urge the United Nations to react and to insist that the UN Human Rights Commission be allowed to talk to the defendants.” Reporters Without Borders has been told that blogger Mohamad Ali Abtahi (www.webneveshteha.com ), who was arrested on 16 June, and Mohamad Atryanfar, the editor of the newspapers Hamshary, Shargh and Shahrvand Emrouz, who was arrested on 15 June, are charged with being among the “organisers” of the June demonstrations in Tehran. Around 10 other people are accused of taking photos and video while participating in the demonstrations and then posting them online. An indictment accusing the defendants of “participating in the riots, acting against national security, disturbing public order and committing acts of vandalism” was read out by the deputy prosecutor general. The indictment quoted confessions extracted from Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, who was arrested on 21 June, and from a “spy who travelled to Israel.” This could be Hossein Derakhshan, a blogger who was arrested on 1 November 2008. There has been no word of him since his arrest and his family says he is still in prison. Saleh Nikbakht, a lawyer who is representing Abtahi, Atryanfar, Bahari and about seven other defendants, told Reporters Without Borders: “I have not had access to the prosecution case files at any point since the arrest of my clients. I was not aware of the trial until 11 a.m. today. And I did not get permission to enter the courtroom.” Nikbakht added: “Prosecutor-general (Said) Mortazavi told me to come back tomorrow. According to article 135 of the Iranian constitution, trials held without lawyers being present are illegal. So this trial has no legal validity.” In all about 100 people went on trial this morning before a Tehran revolutionary court for their alleged participation in a so-called “Velvet Revolution” which, according to the Iranian authorities, was fomented by the United States. The Fars News agency said they could get five years in prison, or possibly the death penalty if convicted of being “mohareb” (enemies of God).