Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More journalists arrested in Iran

As Iran is getting closer to the March Parliamentary elections, press freedom standard is rapidly deteriorating in the country, with seven journalists arrested since the beginning of 2012. The last three, Marzieh Rasouli, Parastoo Dokouhaki and the photojournalist Sahamoddin Bourghani, worked for different reformist opposition newspapers and publications, and they have been imprisoned with the charge of acting against the national security of the Islamic Republic. Rasouli has long worked as a freelance journalist, notably for art and cultural publications. Parastoo used to work with Zanan Magazine, a reform-minded feminist magazine that was active for 16 years before being shut down by the authorities in 2008. Sahamoddin Bourghani, national press director for the Ministry of Culture under former president Mohammad Khatami, was also arrested Jan. 17. In the last years, it has been common for journalist in Iran to change continuously publisher, due to temporary closure of the newspaper by the government. Iranian authorities have adopted a policy of putting pressure on the journalist community with frequent arrests and newspapers closures. According to the Committee to Protect Journalist, 42 journalists were in jail at the end of 2011, and the recent increase is a sign of a worrying tendency for the following months. Moreover, 3 Web technologists have been recently sentenced to death. Among them, Saeed Malekpour has been accused of developing software used in porno websites, and he has been forced to confess his alleged crimes on state television. In addition to reduce freedom of press and speech in the country, proceedings against journalists and reformists are used by different factions in their struggle for internal power, especially on the eve of electoral terms. The March 2012 Parliamentary elections will be the first ones since June 2009, and are becoming a turning point for the internal political struggle among different conservative groups.

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