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IFJ Slams Iran over Jail Term for Leading Journalist

September 24, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Iranian authorities of a continuing and unrelenting campaign of intimidation against media after a court condemned leading journalist and author Emad Baghi to a six-year suspended jail term.

The sentence, in response to an interview he conducted for the BBC's Persian service TV channel in 2007, was described as "punitive and absurd in equal measure" by the IFJ which says Iran must end its targeting of journalists.

"The sentence is completely unjustified and demonstrates only that the Tehran regime remains focused on making life difficult for independent and dissident voices in journalism," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Journalists must be allowed to seek the opinions of all sides in society, including those who may disagree with the government."

Baghi who remains free pending his appeal, was according to local reports convicted of "engaging in propaganda against the Islamic system." He was arrested in December last year after his interview with Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri in 2007 was re-broadcast by the BBC in December 2009 following the cleric's death.

The journalist who is also a human rights activist was released on bail in June but was convicted the following month of endangering national security in relation to his work defending prisoners' rights. He received a one year jail term and was banned from political activities for five years. The sentence was upheld by an appeal court early in the week, reports say.

Last month, Badressadat Mofidi, General Secretary of the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ), an IFJ affiliate, was also sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to commit crime and propaganda against the Islamic regime.

The IFJ says the Iranian regime's suppression of independent media in the country has led to the jailing of journalists on trumped up charges. Some journalists have fled to neighbouring countries and further beyond to seek political refuge.

The Federation is working with its affiliates across the globe, especially in Turkey with the Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi (TGS), and in Denmark with the Danish Union of Journalists to provide humanitarian assistance to Iranian colleagues forced into exile.

"The persecution of our colleagues in Iran is countered by solidarity from the global journalists' community," added Aidan. "We are committed to defending all of our colleagues and we will not rest until all detained journalists in Iran are free and those in exile can return home."

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: + 32 2 235 22 07

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