IFJ Condemns New Wave of Journalists' Arrests in Iran

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Iranian authorities of targeting media amid signs of solidarity in the country with protests which toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. At least four journalists working for reformist newspaper were arrested last week ahead of demonstrations called by the opposition to support recent popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

"The Iranian regime is attempting to intimidate journalists out of fear for the publicity anti governments protests have had in the Middle East," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Gagging media is further proof that the authorities are failing to heed calls for democratic change in the region."

According to the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ), an IFJ affiliate, security forces arrested on Friday two journalists, Nazhat Amirabadian and Maziar Khosravi , working for Shargh, the only remaining reformist newspaper in Iran. On Sunday night, the authorities arrested Abodalah Naseri, former head of Iranian news agency(IRNA) under President Khatami's rule. Four more journalists, Omid Mohaddes, Taghi Rahmani, Meysam Mohammadi and Sadredin Beheshti Shirazi were detained early last week for questioning.

These arrests followed the call by Iranian political opposition for demonstration yesterday 14 February in solidarity with people in Tunisia and Egypt who have forced former presidents Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak to step down. Media reports say the authorities have blocked access to internet sites and started jamming satellite news channels.

The AoIJ says that at least 34 journalists remain in prison, including two women Nazanin Khosravani and Hengameh Shahidi. Khosravani faces charges of "acting against national security, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and disturbing public opinion", says the AoIJ.

The IFJ accuses the Iranian authorities of seeking to blame the media for the public opinion which has largely been critical of the leadership since the disputed presidential poll of June 2009.

"The authorities must respect journalists' independence and stop making them scape goats," added White. "It is time to release all our colleagues."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries