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