Report: The arrests of Iranian journalists continue

c_250_150_16777215_00___images_stories_news_journalists.jpgAccording to the latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 43 journalists behind bars, Iran currently ranks as the worst country in the world with the most imprisoned journalists. The latest arrests occur as conditions worsen for journalists behind bars in Rajai Shahr and Evin prisons. And, the pressures on their families and loved ones has also increased. Imprisoned journalists in Iran face severe restrictions without the ability to take advantage of furlough.

January 18, 2012: Three more Iranian journalists have been arrested in the past 24 hours. Their names are: Saham[aldin] Bourghani, Parastoo Dokouhaki, and Marzieh Rasouli.

Journalist Fatemeh Kheradmand has been arrested
January 18, 2012: According to a phone conversation that Masoud Lavasani had with his wife yesterday morning, Fatemeh Kheradmand is not doing well. Her husband has expressed worry regarding his wife’s situation in prison, especially because it seems that the jailed journalist is being deprived of the medication she requires. The reason for Kheradmand’s arrest remains unknown. Their 3-year-old son Matin is also very worried.  According to Lavasani, Matin constantly asks about the condition of his dear mother. Lavasani hopes that his wife doesn’t suffer from a convulsion in prison.

Jailed journalist Fatemeh Kheradman (left) and her son Matin.

According to reports by various news agencies, Fatemeh Kheradmand, a journalist and the wife of former political prisoner and journalist Massoud Lavasani, was arrested [on January 6, 2012) [Masoud Lavasani was released from Evin prison on September 8, 2011, after enduring approximately two years behind bars]. Fatemeh Kheradmand is also a graduate of the Azad University journalism school in Tehran. She was expelled from the Hamshahri Institute [the largest journalism institute in Iran], but she was still semi-active as a journalist.


Mehdi Mahmoudian Once Again Severely Beaten, Insulted and Threatened in Evin Prison

Mehdi Mahmoudian is an incarcerated journalist who has been behind bars in Rajai Shahr prison for the past two years and has been denied furlough. Last week, while serving his six-year prison sentence, Mahmoudian was beaten while being transferred by IRGC agents to the IRGC-controlled ward 2-A of Evin prison. The reason for this transfer remains undisclosed. According to the same reports, the baton beatings continued even when Mahmoudian arrived in ward 2-A. In addition to being beaten, during his interrogation process, Mahmoudian faced vulgar insults by IRGC agents, who threatened him because of letters he had written in prison.

Mehdi Mahmoudian, pictured here in the hospital, smiles to the camera to show his resistance.

According to informed sources, the beatings were so severe that Mahmoudian reportedly lost consciousness and security agents were forced to transfer him to the prison infirmary where he [had to use an] oxygen mask. Additionally, Mahmoudian was recently hospitalized as a result of a heart condition.

Mehdi Mahmoudian, also a human rights activist, was arrested on September 7, 2009 and transferred to Evin prison. Mahmoudian, the head of the Communication’s department for the Iran Participation Front, was one of the individuals who exposed the atrocities that had occurred in Kahrizak prison.

[Persian2English editor's note (January 14, 2012): According to Human Rights Activists News Agency, Mehdi Mahmoudian was transferred to the Evin prison clinic the other day after being brutally attacked by prison guards.]


Imprisoned journalist Massoud Bastani

Massoud Bastani in Dire Physical Condition
The reports of illnesses in Rajai Shahr prison continue. Despite the dire physical condition of journalist Massoud Bastani, Rajai Shahr prison officials and the Iranian Judiciary have refused to grant him medical furlough and continue to delay his transfer to a hospital for medical treatment.

Bastani, who is currently enduring a six-year prison, suffers from severe migraines which have led to several incidents of hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body).

According to the forensic doctors who examined him in prison, Bastani is in dire need of a CAT scan and should be transferred to a hospital as soon as possible in order to be examined by medical specialists. However, to date, Rajai Shahr prison officials and the Judiciary have refused to send Bastani to a hospital outside of the prison.

Bastani’s family is gravely concerned about his physical condition. His mother has expressed alarm regarding her son’s condition. She has stated: “Massoud has been in prison for more than two and a half years without even a day of prison furlough. His physical condition deteriorates on a daily basis due to his lack of movement and limited access to fruits and the appropriate nutrition. Prior to his incarceration, Massoud was experiencing problems with his teeth and gums and also suffered from a digestive disorder. He now also suffers from hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol blood levels). Even though blood tests have been conducted and it was concluded that he requires medical care, prison officials continue to ignore our requests for medical furlough.”

Massoud Bastani was arrested on July 5, 2009 and sentenced to six years in prison on the charges of “Propaganda against the regime” and “Colluding and conspiring with the intent to disturb public order”. Bastani was held in Evin prison until January 2009, but was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison on January 25, 2009. Rajai Shahr is a prison that detains dangerous offenders.

[Persian2English editor's note: Human Rights House of Iran reported in June 2011 that Massoud Bastani had been transferred to solitary confinement on the orders of the Rajai Shahr prison guard]


Latest picture of Imprisoned journalist Isa Saharkhiz: held in the hospital for treatment.

Isa Saharkhiz Admitted to the Hospital in Shackles
Reports from Rajai Shahr prison suggest that journalist Isa Saharkhiz was recently transferred in shackles to a hospital. He remains in the hospital, chained to a bed.

Iran Green Voice reports that Saharkhiz, who has been held behind bars for the past 29 months without a day of furlough, had become extremely weak as a result of his numerous hunger strikes, political fasts, and the various pressures and restrictions exerted on him in prison.

According to the latest reports, four security agents are present in the 24×7 small hospital room where Sharkhiz is receiving medial care. His communication with others is monitored. Despite his physical weakness and the fact that he suffers from various ailments, his hands and feet are chained in the form of an X to his hospital bed during most hours of the day and night.

Saharkhiz has reportedly lost a significant amount of weight and suffers from extreme fluctuations in blood pressure. Hospital personnel report that the limited access to fruit, vegetables and a variety of vitamins, has led Saharkhiz to experience negative physiological effects.

The most recent picture of Isa Saharkhiz, chained to a hospital bed. Click on the photo to expand.

Last month, Saharkhiz’s wife addressed a letter to the Tehran Prosecutor and demanded that her husband receives medical attention outside of the prison. Saharkhiz’s family offered to pay for all the expenses required to receive medical care. Although her request was ignored until recently, Saharkhiz’s physical condition reportedly deteriorated to such a degree that judicial and prison authorities finally agreed to allow him to be transferred to an external hospital.

Saharkhiz is one of many journalists arrested after the rigged 2009 Iranian Presidential election. Until his recent transfer to the hospital, he was denied prison furlough. Saharkhiz is a member of the Central Council of the Association for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iran, the former editor of the banned monthly publication Aftab, and he was the head of the press department for the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Education during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency.

Saharkhiz was illegally arrested in early July 2009 after publishing a number of articles supporting the Green Movement and criticizing the ruling government and the Supreme Leader.

Hassan Fathi

Hassan Fathi Remains Behind Bars in Solitary Confinement
Imprisoned journalist Hassan Fathi has been held in a state of limbo in Evin prison since November 2011. His family recently expressed grave concern regarding the fact that he remains in solitary confinement.

In an interview with BBC Persian, one of Fathi’s family members described the behavior of security and judiciary officials as highly degrading. The family member stated: “If he is guilty, then put him on trial and try him based on the laws of our land. Our martyrs lost their lives so that there would be no discrimination.”

Fathi’s family member insisted on his innocence and the illegal nature of his arrest. The source rejected Fathi’s charge of “Spreading lies and negatively influencing public opinion” filed against him. The family member added: “Fathi is a well-known and respected journalist who has been writing for 30 years.”

Fathi’s arrest was widely condemned both inside Iran and abroad, with 102 Iranian journalists signing a statement demanding his immediate and unconditional release.

Hassan Fathi was arrested on November 13, 2011. Pro-regime media outlets in Iran claimed that Fathi had been arrested as a result of his interview with BBC Persian regarding the blast at the IRGC depot that killed at least 17 soldiers.

Continued Pressure on Journalists in Iran
In recent weeks, rather than granting journalists bail, many have been handed down further prison sentences. For example, Hamid Moazeni, a journalist and writer from the city of Bushehr, was arrested and transferred to prison.

Advar News reported that Moazeni was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on September 27, 2011 in the city of Bushehr. He was released on $90,000 [USD] bail after enduring 15 days behind bars.

Moazeni was an active member of Mehdi Karroubi’s Presidential election campaign. Karroubi has been under house arrest for more than 300 days. Additionally, Moazeni collaborated with independent media outlets in the city of Bushehr. His resume includes editorial responsibility for local weekly newsletters including: “Birmi”, “Avab Baharestan”, “Daryayeh Jonoob” and “Salam Jonoob”.

Other reports indicate that the Appeals Court in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan has upheld a six-month prison for Saeed Moghanli, a poet and journalist from the city of Tabriz.

Though Saeed Moghanli was reportedly cleared of the charge of “Cooperation with a hostile country, namely the United States” (as a result of participating in journalism training in the Republic of Azerbaijan), the charge of “Using illegitimate funds for purposes of education” (to participate in journalism courses) that is pending against him has been overthrown and handed down to the public criminal court for review. Moghanli has also been charged with: “Propaganda against the regime” for poems he had posted on his blog. This charge led to the six-month prison sentence.

Saeed Matinpour Behind Bars for 2 Years and 5 Months Without Furlough

According to reports from Evin prison, Saeed Matinpour, an imprisoned journalist and human rights activist from Azerbaijan, is held in ward 350 of Evin prison. He continues to be deprived of his visitation rights, all telephone contact, and furlough.

In an interview with Jaras, Matinpour’s wife Atieh Taheri, while reiterating that her husband has been deprived of his basic human rights, confirmed that he has been behind bars for two years and five months without a day of furlough. According to his wife, for the past six months, Matinpour has also been deprived of face-to-face prison visits.

Atieh Taheri added: “Every week I travel from Zanjan to Tehran in order to see him from behind a telephone booth. Though this travel back and forth is very difficult, in comparison to what our loved ones are enduring behind bars, this hardship is nevertheless insignificant. Saeed suffers from extreme backache. He has had X-rays taken and the doctors have diagnosed that one of his vertebrae has been displaced and is inflamed. As a result, he was given medication to treat the pain. They told us to coordinate a doctor’s visit outside of prison, but because they wanted to put him in shackles outside of prison, Saeed refused to go to the doctor’s office.”

Saeed Matinpour was arrested on May 25, 2007 and spent nine months behind bars at the Ministry of Intelligence detention center in Zanjan and in Evin prison, where he was beaten and interrogated under extreme pressure. Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Salavati sentenced him to seven years in prison on the charge of “Collaboration with foreign countries” and one year in prison for “Propaganda against the regime”. Matinpour has rejected all the charges against him and has not had the opportunity to defend himself in the court of law.

Matinpour is a Philosophy graduate student from the University of Tehran. He is a member of the editorial board of the weekly newsleter “”Yarpagh” and “Moje Bidari”. He is also a civil activist who used to blog in the Azari language.


Imprisoned journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouie

Incarcerated Journalists Deprived of their Right to Face-to-Face Visits and Prison Furlough
Bahman Ahmadi Amouie is another incarcerated journalist who has been deprived of face-to-face visits and prison furlough for the past two and a half years. Ahmadi Amouie was arrested at his home on June 20, 2009 along with his wife Jila Baniyaghoub. He continues to be held behind bars in Evin prison (Jila Baniyaghoub was released from prison in August 2009). Ahmadi Amouie was granted furlough once, but has not left prison for the past two years. According to his family, he is only allowed to see his wife and other family members from behind a telephone cabin window and has been deprived of all face-to-face visits for more than one year. Ahmadi Amouie has not even been allowed telephone contact with his ailing mother.

Imprisoned journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi

Like many other families of political prisoners, Ahmadi Amouie’s family has repeatedly requested that the Tehran Prosecutor grant him furlough. But, to date, all requests have been denied, even though the Revolutionary Court is in possession of a bail amount of $50,000 [USD] dollars received from the family. Ahmadi Amouie was sentenced to five years in prison by branch 54 of the Appeals Court on the charge of “Writing critical articles regarding the economic policies of Ahmadinejad’s government in the Sarmayeh Newspaper and on his blog”.  He was also charged for his activities as editor of the Khordad-e-No website.


Imprisoned journalist Keyvan Samimi

Ahmad Zeidabadi and Keyvan Samimi are also currently behind bars and deprived of their basic human rights. Ahmad Zeidabadi was arrested the day after 2009 Iranian Presidential election. During his time behind bars, he has only been granted 48 hours of prison furlough. Keyvan Samimi has been held in prison for more than two years and has yet to be granted furlough. Samimi is suffering from a number of ailments, and his children have repeatedly requested that judicial authorities grant him medical furlough. To date, Iranian authorities have ignored all the requests.

In addition to the above journalists, many more are currently spending their days behind bars in prisons across Iran while held under extremely difficult circumstances and deprived of all their basic human rights.