Detention of journalists in Iran

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mr. Kambiz Sheikh Hassani, Chargé d'affaires
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
245 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 2K2

July 19, 2011

Dear Mr. Hassani,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is troubled by the ongoing detention and mistreatment of journalists in Iran. The high number of detained journalists being held for exercising their right to free expression makes Iran one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists. Among others, Iranian journalists currently held in prison include:

- Massoud Bastani, who was arrested following the 2009 post-election protests and is being held in Rajaee Shahr Prison. Bastani was beaten in front of visiting family members on June 2, 2011. After complaining about the abuse, he was placed in solitary confinement until retracting the statement.
- Mehdi Mahmoudian, who was arrested following the 2009 post-election protests and handed a five-year prison sentence. A letter Mahmoudian wrote about inhumane prison conditions was made public in May 2011, and he was placed in solitary confinement in retaliation.
- Hengameh Shahidi, who was arrested following the 2009 post-election protests and is the only female journalist currently serving a prison sentence. She was released on temporary medical leave on June 19, 2011. Shahidi has multiple illnesses, and has reportedly been denied medical treatment.
- Maryam Majd, one of the few Iranian photographers specializing in women’s sports, went missing on June 16, 2011. She had been scheduled to arrive in Germany on June 17, to photograph the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It was confirmed on June 21, that Majd had been arrested.

CJFE also remains concerned for detained Canadian-Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan. He was sentenced on September 29, 2010, to 19 and a half years on charges of cooperating with hostile countries, spreading propaganda and insulting religious figures. His sentence was upheld by an appeals court on June 9, 2011.

CJFE calls upon the Iranian government to release all journalists currently detained in Iranian prisons. CJFE urges Iranian authorities to ensure the welfare and proper treatment of all journalists, and to allow them to conduct their work without fear of persecution.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. Dennis Horak, Chargé d'Affaires of Canada to Iran
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs