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With as many as 30 in behind bars, Iran replaces China as world's top jailer of journalists

This is an undated handout image from Global Radio News issued on Thursday June 25, 2009 of Global Radio News freelance correspondent and The Washington Times reporter Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden, known as Jason Fowden, who is holds Greek and British dual nationality. Iran's state television is reporting that a Greek journalist that had been held for more than two weeks has been released. State television Sunday July 5, 2009 quoted a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Hasan Qashqavi, as saying that Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden had been released in, what he described as the framework of Tehran-Athens ties. Athanasiadis-Fowden was arrested on or around June 19. He has dual Greek and British citizenship and was believed to be the only foreigner being held by Iranian authorities in the post-election crackdown that has swept the country.

With 30 journalists currently in prison, Iran has replaced China as the world's worst jailer of journalists.

Research by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows that 24 detained in the aftermath of the elections remain in custody, in addition to six journalists who were in detention prior to the disputed elections. In the past few days three journalists have been freed, while at least three others have been arrested.

Of the 30 journalists currently behind bars, 13 work primarily for print publications, three work for online publications, two work for television stations, six are primarily bloggers, and an additional six are freelancers or with unknown affiliations.

"The Iranian authorities have orchestrated a campaign against journalists of all types since the June 12 presidential elections," says CPJ Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "Despite some isolated releases, the number of journalists behind bars is at an all time high. The authorities should immediately release all the detained journalists."

On Sunday, Iranian authorities freed Iason Athanasiadis‎, a freelance reporter who was detained on June 17. He had travelled to Iran to cover the presidential election and was arrested at the Tehran airport as he was leaving the country. Greek authorities intervened on his behalf and helped secured his release.

Iranian authorities also released on Sunday Mustafa Qwanlu Ghajar‎, a journalist with the monthly magazine Sepideh Danaei who also blogs at Ghajar. He was arrested on June 22, according to local news reports. Mojtaba Pour-Mohssen‎, editor-in-chief of the daily Gilan Imrouz and contributor to Radio Zamaaneh, an Internet radio ‎station‎, was released last week, according to local news reports. Authorities arrested Pour-Mohssen on June 15 in Rasht, northwest of Tehran.

Meanwhile, CPJ has confirmed the arrests of three additional journalists, Massoud Bastani, Issa Sahar-Khiz and Kambiz Nouroozi, who were detained recently.

Below is a list of journalists who remain in custody as of July 7. The names reflect those whose detention could be independently verified by CPJ.

Massoud Bastani, Jomhoriyat
DETAINED: July 5, 2009
Bastani, husband of detained journalist Mehamsa Amrabadi, was arrested when he was went to a Tehran court seeking information about his wife's whereabouts, according to multiple local news reports. He works for Jomhoriyat, a news website affiliated with the defeated reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. His wife, Amrabadi, was arrested along with two other journalists on June 15. According to local and international rights groups Amrabadi, who is pregnant, is being held at Evin Prison.

Issa Sahar-Khiz, freelance
DETAINED: July 3, 2009
Sahar-Khiz, a freelance journalist and founding member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested while traveling in north of Iran, the Association said in a statement. It also reported that the family has been informed of the arrest by phone. Sahar-Khiz is the former director of the press department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and is a supporter of defeated candidate presidential Mahdi Karroubi, according to news reports.

Abulfadhl Abidini, freelance
DETAINED: June 30, 2009
Abidini, a freelance journalist and human right activist, was arrested in Ahwaz in southwest Iran on June 30, according to the U.S.-backed Radio Farda. Security agents searched his house before taking him, the radio station reported. Abidini was also arrested last year after he reported on a strike by workers at a factory in Ahwaz.

Kambiz Nouroozi, Association of Iranian Journalists>
DETAINED: June 28, 2009
Uniformed officers arrested Nouroozi, director of legal affairs at the Association of Iranian Journalists, in Tehran, the Persian service of the BBC reported. He contacted family members to inform them that his case will be referred to the Revolutionary Court, the BBC reported.


Mujtaba Tehrani, Itmad e Milli
DETAINED: June 27, 2009
Tehrani, a reporter with the newspaper owned by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was arrested on his way home, according to Saham News, a news website affiliated with Karroubi. According to Saham News, Tehrani had informed his family that he was returning home from work, but never arrived. The following day police visited his home, searched it, and took his computer, the website reported.

Names unknown (3), Kalameh Sabz
DETAINED: June 22, 2009
Although 25 staffers of Kalameh Sabz, a newspaper owned by defeated presidential contender Mir-Hossein Mousavi, were initially detained, Ayande News, a self-described independent news website, reported on June 29 that 22 of them had been released.


Alireza Beheshti, Kalameh Sabz
DETAINED: June 22, 2009
Beheshti, editor-in-chief of Kalameh Sabz, was arrested on June 22 as he was leaving the newspaper, according to several local news reports. His arrest came hours after security agents detained about 25 staffers, local press reported.


Maziar Bahari, Newsweek
DETAINED: June 20, 2009
Security agents arrested Newsweek's Tehran correspondent, Maziar Bahari, the magazine reported. The officers, who did not identify themselves, took Bahari's laptop and several videotapes, according to Newsweek. On June 30, Fars News agency posted an 11-page "confession" from Bahari in which he allegedly blames Western media groups for the unrest that followed the contested June 12 presidential elections.

Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, Iranian Women's Club>
Bahman Ahmadi Omavi, Affiliation unknown
DETAINED: June 19, 2009
Bani-Yaghoub and Omavi, who are married, were arrested by security forces in Tehran, the U.S.-funded Radio Farda reported. Bani-Yaghoub is the editor-in-chief of the Iranian Women's Club, a women's rights website. Ishrat Awliai, Bani-Yaghoub's mother, told the Iranian Women's Club on July 1 that since her arrest Bani-Yaghoub has contacted her family just once from Evin Prison. The mother also said that during the raid security agents took two computers and mobile phones.

Rajab-Ali Mazroui, Association of Iranian Journalists
DETAINED: June 19, 2009
Mazroui, director of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested on June 19, according to multiple local news reports. The details of his arrest in Tehran remain unknown.

Muhammad Ghouchani, Itmad e Milli
DETAINED: June 19, 2009
Ghouchani, editor-in-chief of Itmad e Milli, which is owned by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was arrested on June 19 by Ettelaat intelligence agents, the BBC Persian service reported. On June 30, Javan, a newspaper aligned with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, published a "confession" allegedly made by Ghouchani, although the paper only identified him by his initials. The newspaper reported that Ghouchani confessed to having been trained in a Persian Gulf country in preparation for a revolution.

Saeed Lilaz, Sarmaia >
DETAINED: June 17, 2009
Lilaz, a journalist for the daily business journal Sarmaia and a vocal critic of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's economic policy, was arrested in his home on June 17, his wife, Sepharnaz Panahi, told the BBC Persian service. She said that officers searched their home and confiscated videotapes, hard disks, and letters. The family doesn't know where Lilaz is being held, the BBC reported. Sarmaia also reported the arrest.

Karim Arghandehpour, blogger
DETAINED: June 17, 2009
Arghandehpour, a journalist who blogs at Futurama, was arrested on June 17, according to news reports. Arghandehpour wrote for the now-defunct reformist newspapers Salaam and Vaghaa-ye-Ettefaaghyeh, according to the Tehran Bureau, a news website.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, blogger
DETAINED: June 16, 2009
The well-known blogger Abtahi, who is an advisor to the defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi and was vice president during Mohammad Khatami's presidency, was arrested on June 16, the BBC Persian service reported. A blog entry on his site states that he will resume writing as soon as he is released. His wife, Fatima Abtahi, told the BBC that three men in plainclothes visited their home in Tehran and took him away.

Sumaia Tawhidlu, blogger
DETAINED: Mid-June
Tawhidlu, who blogs at Sahel e Salamat and is a supporter of defeated reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested in mid-June in Tehran,
according to local news reports. The precise date of her arrest is unknown.

Ahmad Zaid-Abadi, Rooz Online
DETAINED: Mid-June
Zaid-Abadi, a well-known journalist who writes a weekly column for Rooz Online, a Farsi and English reformist news website, was arrested in mid-June
in Tehran. Zaid-Abadi is also the director of the Organization of University Alumni of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a supporter of the defeated candidate Mehdi Karroubi. The details of his arrest remain unknown.

Mehamsa Amrabadi, Itmad e Milli >
Behzad Bashbo, date unknown
Khalil Mir-Ashrafi, date unknown
DETAINED: June 15, 2009
Amrabadi, a reporter for Itmad e Milli newspaper, was arrested on June 15, her mother, Maryam Naqi, told the BBC Persian service. Naqi told the BBC that the Ministry of Justice informed her on June 18 that her daughter was being held at Evin Prison. On June 17, Ham Mihan, a news website, reported that the cartoonist Bashbo and television producer Mir-Ashrafi were guests at Amrabadi's home in Tehran when all the three were detained.

Shiwa Nazar-Ahari, blogger
DETAINED: June 14, 2009
Nazar-Ahari, a blogger and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a local watchdog group, was arrested by Ettelaat intelligence agents in her Tehran office on June 14, the committee reported.

Kaiwan Samimi, Nama
DETAINED: June 14, 2009
Samimi, manager of the now-defunct monthly magazine Nama, was arrested on June 14 in Tehran, according to multiple online articles.

Date posted: July 8, 2009 Last modified: May 12, 2018 Total views: 78