Wednesday, December 15, 2004

IFEX :: Mandegari and Faghihi detained Oct 03

IFEX :: Two journalists detained: "Two journalists detained

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has called for an end to the prior censorship imposed on the press by the National Security Council (NSC) and has condemned continuing arrests and questioning of journalists.


Mohsen Mandegari, chief political journalist at the daily "Entekhab" ("The Choice"), was summoned by the Teheran Revolutionary Court on 7 October 2003 and detained until 8 October, his editor-in-chief Mohamad Mehdi Faghihi said. Faghihi was also summoned and detained for several hours on the same day.

Mandegari's arrest followed the publication of an article discussing what was at stake for the regime in the signing of a protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

All discussion of this subject is banned under censorship imposed by the NSC, the body that rules on all state security issues.

The arrest of a journalist working for a moderate conservative daily is somewhat unusual. It sheds additional light on the advance censorship system set up by the NSC, headed by reformist President Mohammad Khatami but mainly made up of conservatives.

Every week the council sends all newspapers a list of banned subjects, such as student demonstrations in 1999, the resumption of dialogue with the United States, the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, or more recently anything connected with the signing of the IAEA.

It is occasionally possible to report on facts or statements made by Iranian political figures on these subjects but any analysis of the issues is forbidden.

"Entekhab" had revealed that Parliament and the presidential body officially responsible for the signing of the protocol were excluded from the process in favour of an ad hoc committee set up by the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Revolution.

"It has been a year now that we have been subjected to pressure and censorship, which is aimed not only at the reformist newspapers," said Faghihi.

Meanwhile, the publishers of reformist newspapers "Yas-e no", "Sharq", "Hambastegi" and "Baharaneh" were summoned during the week of 5 October by the Tehran court on a complaint from the Prosecutor's Office and Prosecutor-General Said Mortazavi.

A major figure in the reform movement, journalist Abbas Abdi, has just had his jail sentence increased by five years. He has already been held in solitary confinement for several months at Evin prison and has been on a hunger strike for the past 28 days.

Abdi was arrested in February for, among other things, "giving information to enemies of the Islamic regime" and sentenced to eight years in jail. His sentence was reduced to four and a half years in April. It has just been extended by five years for a count on the charge sheet that was not made public.

MORE INFORMATION:

For further information, contact Séverine Cazes-Tschann at RSF, rue Geoffroy Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail: moyen-orient@rsf.org, Internet: http://www.rsf.org
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