CJFE calls for Iran to release poet, translator and Internet expert Mohammad Soleimani-Nia

Friday, May 4, 2012

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

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 seriously concerned about the health and well-being of literary translator, poet, and Internet expert Mohammad Soleimani-Nia, detained since January 10, 2012.

According to PEN International, Mr. Soleimani-Nia was responding to a summons in Tehran when he was arrested by plain clothes security agents. The organization also reported that the security agents then accompanied him to his home in Karaj and after searching and confiscating his computer and some personal belongings, he was taken away. His family believes that he is being kept in solitary confinement in Evin prison, but his whereabouts remain unconfirmed.

Without any official charges against him, it appears that Mohammad Soleimani-Nia’s detention is punishment for exercising his right to freedom of expression, which is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran currently has the most journalists imprisoned of any country in the world. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has found Iran to have the most imprisoned bloggers of any country. Using imprisonment as a means to silence individuals has grave implications on the state of free expression, and is a violation of human rights.

CJFE remains deeply concerned about the safety of artists, journalists, writers, bloggers, and human rights advocates in Iran, who are continuously persecuted for exercising their right to free expression. We urge the Iranian government to release Mohammad Soleimani-Nia immediately, and respect his and other Iranians’ free expression rights.

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