AFP: The United States Thursday accused Iran of trying to quash all freedom of expression ahead of March elections, as it cracks down on reporters and bloggers.
WASHINGTON (AFP)— The United States Thursday accused Iran of trying to quash all freedom of expression ahead of March elections, as it cracks down on reporters and bloggers.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland cited the reported arrests of four journalists and death sentences imposed on two bloggers, who she said face imminent execution over charges of spreading corruption.
“We are deeply concerned by the alarming increase in the Iranian regime?s efforts to extinguish all forms of free expression and limit its citizens? access to information in the lead-up to March parliamentary elections,” she said.
Security forces in the last two weeks have reportedly arrested journalists Shahram Manouchehri, Sahamedin Bourghani, Parastoo Dokouhaki, and Marzieh Rasouli, she said.
“Iranian courts confirmed death sentences for bloggers Saeed Malekpour and Vahid Asghari, both of whom were not accorded due process and now face imminent execution on charges of ‘spreading corruption.'”
The United States is urging Iranian officials to respond to international calls for it “to abide by its commitments to protect the rights of all its citizens and uphold the rule of law.”
This includes “the conduct of a transparent electoral process that permits citizens to make their voices heard,” Nuland added.
Washington also urged Iranian officials to “cooperate with UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed and allow him to enter Iran to conduct his work.”
The United States frequently criticizes Iran over its human rights record while demanding Tehran comes clean on its nuclear program, which it fears masks a drive to produce a nuclear bomb. Iran denies the charge.