Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that a number of prisoners of opinion, including seven journalists and netizens, were released on 15 August. The Iranian authorities announced that "hundreds of political prisoners have been amnestied by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei" for Eid al-Fitr, the festivity that marks the end of the month of Ramadan.
"We are delighted by the release of these prisoners," Reporters Without Borders said. "The journalists and netizens amnestied on 15 August were arrested arbitrarily and should not have been in prison. This good news should not eclipse the fact that they were treated like criminals and deprived of their freedom, some of them for more than two years, for covering government repression and corruption. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the other journalists and netizens who have been jailed unjustly."
The following journalists and netizens were amnestied:
Rahman Bozari, who wrote for the opinion section of the daily Shargh. He was arrested on 19 May to begin serving his jail sentence. Originally arrested on 29 May 2011 and freed on bail a month later, he was sentenced to 70 lashes and two years in prison.
Nazanin Khosravani, a journalist who wrote for several reformist newspapers. Arrested on 5 March, she was given a six-year jail sentence on 19 April. Initially arrested at her home by intelligence ministry officials on 2 November 2010, she had been released on 15 March 2011, after 135 days in detention.
Ali Malihi, a reporter for the newspaper Etemad. Held since 2 February 2010, he was serving a four-year sentence.
Farshad Ghorbanpour, a journalist who wrote for several reformist newspapers including Mehrnameh. He was arrested on 1 December 2011 and sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of 50 million toman (4,000 euros).
Mazdak Ali Nazari, who worked for various reformist newspapers, including Farhikhteghan. He had been held since 10 October 2011 and was serving a sentence of four years and three months in prison. He was previously detained from November 2010 to January 2011.
Amir Latifi and Sepehr Ebrahimi, student netizens who were arrested in July 2010 along with five other students – Mohammad Reza Gholizadeh, Ladan Mostoufi Ma’ab, Hanieh Sate Farshi, Hojat Nikoui and Iman Masjedi. They were all given severe sentences on 16 April 2011 – eight years for Masjedi and Ebrahimi, seven years for Gholizadeh and Farshi, five years for Nikoui and Ma’ab and seven years and 74 lashes for Amir Latifi.
Despite being in poor health, Gholizadeh, Ma’ab and Farshi were given a reduction in sentence but were not released.
Prisoners such as Nazari, Bozari and Latifi who had been sentenced to lashing as well as jail terms were lashed before being released.
In a separate development, Reporters Without Borders has learned that men in plain clothes arrested the blogger and satirical poet Mohammad Reza Ali Pyam at his home on 14 August. His family does not know why he was arrested or where he is being held. Pyam, who runs a blog called Halloo, is known for being openly critical of the regime.