Iranian government harassing Persian journalists abroad

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Morteza Bakhtiari
Minister of Justice
Tehran, Valiasr St., No. 1816

Dear Minister,

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 strongly condemns the Iranian government’s increasing harassment of its expatriate journalists, particularly those employed by the BBC’s Persian service in London, and we are concerned by the targeting of these journalists’ family members still living in Iran.

In recent months, pro-regime activists and government-approved websites in Iran launched a number of slanderous personal attacks and threats against Persian journalists employed by the BBC and other international news media outlets. This smear campaign, carried out through fake Facebook accounts and a counterfeit BBC blog, has included allegations of sexual misconduct and drug trafficking. In addition, government authorities in Iran have begun to target the journalists' family members in the country through seemingly random arrests and detainment in Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin Prison.

These efforts to intimidate and discredit exiled Persian journalists substantiate concerns about the Iranian government’s persecution of those exercising their right to free expression. CJFE is seriously alarmed by the increasingly hostile environment in Iran for freedom of expression.

CJFE urges the Iranian government to denounce the defamatory and threatening actions of its officials, to release immediately the family members of expatriate journalists and to respect the free expression rights of Iranians at home and abroad.
We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs