The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organisation of journalists, has called on Iranian leaders to end the intimidation of local and international media which has seen leaders of Iran’s journalists’ union forced into hiding for their safety.
In a letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President re-elected in controversial elections which led to widespread protests over the past week, IFJ leaders have expressed particular concern over the fate of Karim Arghandepour, a well-known Iranian journalist and an elected member of the IFJ’s global Executive Committee. He has not been heard of since his arrest in the official crackdown that has followed public protest over the presidential election.
Also in hiding is Ali Masrooie, the Chair of the Association of Iranian journalists. “Like other journalists’ leaders he is fearful of being targeted by the authorities for his staunch defence of journalists and their right to work independently,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha and General Secretary Aidan White in their letter to the Iranian President.
On Monday, the Iranian authorities entered the offices of Kalemeh Sabz, pro-Mir Hossein Mousavi newspaper and arrested all the media staff present. According to the report, the Iranian security agents are now operating inside independent newsrooms, controlling and imposing censorship on what goes to printing. Iranian journalists are threatened of being arrested if they speak to foreign media. It has been also confirmed that Iason Athanasiadis, a Greek journalist who was reporting for the Washington Times had been arrested over the weekend.
The IFJ says targeting of media, arbitrary arrest of Iranian journalists, and unprecedented restrictions imposed on foreign media, including blocking of internet sites amount to a comprehensive violation of Iran’s commitments to respect human rights and free expression under the Iranian constitution. The IFJ warns that restrictions on foreign media threaten to obscure the reality of what is happening on the ground.
The IFJ says these violations must end immediately and all detained journalists set free. “We ask you to guarantee the safety of all Iranian journalists so that they can all return to work free of the threat of arrest and intimidation,” said the IFJ.
The Federation has also called upon its member organisations in 123 countries to petition the Iranian authorities “to lift the cloud currently hanging over Iranian journalism.”
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide