Iran Now ‘World’s Leading Jailer of Journalists’

By: E&P Staff

Iran is now “far and away the world’s leading jailer of journalists,’ the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a survey released Wednesday.

At least 47 journalists are in Iranian jails, more than any single country has imprisoned since 1996, according to New York City-based CPJ.

CPJ said the arrests of journalists that began during the mass demonstrations protesting last June’s presidential elections have continued into the new year. In the last two months alone at least 26 journalists have been jailed, the committee said.

In most cases, CPJ said, the journalists are accused of vague charges such as “propagation against the regime,” insulting authorities, and disrupting public order. “But many cases are shrouded in secrecy, without even formal charges being disclosed,” it added.

The number of imprisoned journalists is the highest CPJ has recorded in a single country since December 1996, when it documented the jailing of 78 journalists in Turkey.

“The relentlessness of the press crackdown in Iran demonstrates that authorities continue to fear new ideas and information,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Our goal is not simply to document the brutality, but to let the government know that the world is watching.”

CPJ said its survey, based on a census of imprisoned Iranian journalists conducted on February 1, does not include more than 50 journalists in the country who were imprisoned and later released on bail.

“The current detainees include internationally known figures such as Emadeddin Baghi, the author and human rights defender, and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, an award-winning editor and press advocate,” CPJ said. “They also include journalists such as Mohammad Davari, an editor who helped expose prisoner abuse at the Kahrizak Detention Center, and Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights reporter who has been jailed twice in the last eight months.”

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