More Journalists Arrested

06, 2006

Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir, Rooz Online:

A large number of writers and journalists were among those arrested during the recent popular protestsin the province of Azarbaijan.

Based on recent reports from the group Students Committee to Defend Political Prisoners in Iran, Ali Hamed Iman, editor-in-chief of suspended Shams Tabriz weekly, Zohreh Vafaie, director of Zeynab Pasha Publishing, Eyvaz Taha, editor-in-chief of Moghan publication, Reza Kazemi, executive director of Yarpatogh publication, Younes Safdari and Babak Ojagh, Yarpatogh writers, Ali Nazari, Araz editor-in-chief, Vahid Dargahi, Avaye Ardebil writer,Hassan Ark, editorial board member of suspended Shams Tabriz weekly, Ahmad Rezaie, writer and university professor, Manouchehr Azizi, Changiz Bakhtavar in Tabriz,Orouj Amiri in Marand, Amin Movahedi in Meshkinshahr are among journalists who have been arrested in different cities in Azerbaijan and Ardebil provinces.

Iran’s labor ILNA news agency wrote last week that Ali Hamed Iman, editor-in-chief of the suspended Shams Tabriz weekly had contacted his family once and had informed them of his detention. ILNA also reported last Friday that the offices of Neday-e AzarAbadegan daily, one of the oldest publications in Eastern Azerbaijan were sealed by government agents. Faraz Nashr Tabriz is the publisher and Abolfazl Vesali is the editor-in-chief of this daily.

Abed Tavanche, a student at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University who is also a blogger who had disappeared on May 28th has now been found and is under arrest of Passdaran Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit. An Amir Kabir university publication quoted informed anonymous sources that Abed Tavanche was arrested by intelligence agents belonging to the Passdaran corps and he was under harsh prison conditions.

Recently, circles affiliated to intelligence agencies had accused Abed Tavanche and a number of others as Marxists of fomenting unrest. Such comments were also published in Sobhe Sadegh publication affiliated to the Passdaran. French based Reporters without Borders had protested the arrest of Tavanche, as had Iranian students.

Reporters without Borders reported that the last note on Tavanche’s blog was the note he wrote on the day of disappearance. Tavanche had posted imprisoned lawyer Nasser Zarafshan’s message addressed to 72 Global Writers Congress on the website. Zarafshan is the lawyer for the surviving families of those that were killed in the killings carried out by the ministry of intelligence agents in the late 1990s, known as the ‘serial killings’.

Farid Modaressi, a journalist for Shargh daily who also runs a blog which has been accused of propaganda against the Islamic regime and offending government officials is now behind bars and awaits his sentence. Last year, a court in Qom gave Modaressi a six month suspended sentence and another six months of regular prison. Saleh Nikbakht Modarresi’s defense lawyer told Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) that his client had been held in prison after his term because some influential officials had requested the judiciary officials not to release Modaressi.

Bloggers such as Mojtaba Sameenejad, Arash Sigarchi, Bina Darabzand and a number of other journalists such as Elham Afroutan, Mohsen Dorostkar, Mana Neyestani, Mehrdad Ghasemfar are in prison in Iran on charges that include insulting the leaders of the regime and propaganda against the state.

Mana Neyestani, the cartoonist for Iran daily and Mehrdad Ghasemfar, editor of Iran Jome are in prison since May 12th. Jamal Karimi Rad, the minister of justice who is also the spokesman for the judiciary said that while judicial investigations are still in progress, two journalists from Iran newspaper will not be released until their motivations and behind-the-scenes issues are completely clear. He added that they would temporarily remain in imprison.

Two Rials 300 million bails are issued for Elham Afroutan and Mohsen Dorostkar, the journalists from Avaye Hormozgan who were arrested last February.Around 30 journalists and bloggers were arrested in Iran last year. In its recent report, Amnesty International named Iran among

the three top countries not safe for journalists.

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