Deeply concerned by recent arrest of journalists in Iran

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Her Excellency Hunaina Sultan Ahmed Al Mughairy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in the United States
2535 Belmont Road N.W.
Washington, D.C., DC 20008
United States of America

Dear Ambassador,
In your capacity as representative of Iranian interests in Canada and the United States, 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 deeply concerned by the recent detention of at least three journalists in Iran. According to a report by the Washington Post — later confirmed by Iranian officials — Jason Rezaian, the Post’s correspondent in Tehran and a dual Iranian-American citizen, was taken into custody along with his Iranian wife Yeganeh Salehi, a fellow journalist, on July 24, 2014. Jason Rezaian is reportedly the first journalist with American citizenship to be imprisoned in Iran since 2009. The Iranian Judiciary has yet to release any information on the reasons for their detention and their whereabouts remain unknown.

There are also reports that either two photojournalists, or an Iranian-American photojournalist and her husband, were arrested alongside Rezaian and Salehi. According to Reuters, the Iranian-American husband of the photojournalist was released on July 30. While reports indicate that the recently released prisoner was not subjected to torture, Iran has an abysmal history when it comes to press freedom generally and the treatment of imprisoned journalists and prisoners of conscience specifically. In an April 2014 raid by Iranian guards and intelligence officials on Tehran’s Evin Prison, seven journalists were severely beaten along with dozens of other detainees.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Iran has ranked among the top three worst jailers of journalists in the world every year since 2009, with the regime frequently charging journalists with spying and/or endangering national security in retaliation for reporting critically on the oppressive climate for dissent in the country. A 2013 prison census revealed that at least 35 journalists were imprisoned in Iran at that time, and the numbers continue to rise.

While CJFE is relieved by the recent release of one of these prisoners, we remain troubled by the prolonged arbitrary detention of the other three journalists. CJFE calls on the Iranian government to immediately release the three jailed journalists and all other prisoners of conscience, and to disclose the reasons for their imprisonment. We also call upon the Iranian government to protect and uphold the rights of all journalists working in the country.

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

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: His Excellency Luca Giansanti, Ambassador of Italy to the Islamic Republic of Iran
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs