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Free speech activist prevented from leaving Iran

February 19, 2009

Reporters Without Borders condemns the Iranian government′s decision to ban Abdolreza Tajik, a freelance journalist and staunch free speech activist, from leaving the country. As he was about to board a flight to Spain at Tehran′s Imam Khomeiny airport yesterday, security agents seized his passport and told him he had been summoned to appear before a revolutionary tribunal.

"We are dismayed by this decision, which has no legal basis," Reporters Without Borders said. "Foreign travel bans, which the government often imposes on dissidents, tend to cut journalists off from the outside world. They are also a way of punishing journalists who have ties with international organisations and news media."

A member of Iran′s Human Rights Defenders Centre, Tajik had intended to travel to the Spanish city of Seville to attend a two-day seminar organised by the Three Cultures Foundation on "Iran and 30 years of revolution." As a journalist, Tajik was a regular contributor to three Iranian publications that have been suspended by the government - Bahar (suspended in 2001), Hambastegi (suspended in 2003) and Shargh (suspended in 2008).

The president of the Human Rights Defenders Centre, Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, told Reporters Without Borders: "Tajik is paying the price for working with the centre. He is one of our best journalists."

For more information contact:
Reporters without Borders
Phone: 33 1 44 83 84 84

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