Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the immediate release of two German journalists detained in Iran, who have been shown on Iranian TV and who were accused yesterday by a judicial official in Tabriz (in the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan) of spying. The press freedom organization regards the accusations as a violation of both Iranian and international law.
“The two journalists were just using their fundamental right to gather and report news and information,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “Reporting is not spying. They were doing their duty to report facts fairly in a country where the government allows the press no freedom in its news coverage and is very restrictive about issuing visas to foreign journalists.”
“Exhibiting journalists on television is a particularly deceitful form of propaganda,” Julliard added. “So far, no official proceedings have been initiated against the two journalists and not even a complaint has been filed. Furthermore, nothing is known about the circumstances in which this video was recorded.”
It was reported on 11 October that the two German journalists had been arrested in Tabriz, where they had been interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman whose trial and sentence to death have been widely reported internationally. Ever since their arrest, the German foreign ministry has been trying to use diplomatic means to obtain their release.
Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the most senior judicial official in East Azerbaijan province, yesterday accused the two journalists of spying. A video showing them making statements was broadcast the day before on Iranian state-run television. What they said could not be heard because of the Farsi voiceover.