AFP: The United States said Wednesday that Iran’s sentencing of two journalists to death demonstrated its willingness to “trample on the rights of its citizens.” WASHINGTON, Aug 15, 2007 (AFP) – The United States said Wednesday that Iran’s sentencing of two journalists to death demonstrated its willingness to “trample on the rights of its citizens.”
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack assailed Tehran’s giving death sentences on July 16 to two Kurdish journalists who wrote for the magazine Aso (Horizons) before it was banned in August 2005, for being “enemies of God.”
“By sentencing journalist Adnan Hassanpour and writer and environmental activist Abdolwahed (Hiwa) Butimar to death after a fundamentally flawed trial, the Iranian government has once again shown a willingness to both trample on the rights of its citizens and disregard the most basic standards of acceptable international behavior,” McCormack said in a statement.
He added that Tehran’s reported stepped-up campaign against Iranian news media paints “a sadly familiar and troubling picture of what is happening in Iran under the (President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad government.”
“Iranian authorities continue to keep their citizens from accessing unbiased information by cracking down on independent media outlets, harassing Internet providers, and confiscating satellite dishes,” he said.
“A significant number of Iranian editors, journalists, and bloggers have been harassed, arrested and convicted for exercising their universal right to freedom of expression and assembly, highlighting the regime’s intolerance toward the expression of independent views.”
On Wednesday Tehran confirmed it was holding two reformist journalists behind bars for allegedly spreading propaganda against its Islamic system and disclosing information to foreign news websites.
Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told reporters that journalist Soheil Asefi is “in detention and is being investigated.”
Fellow journalist Farshad Ghorbanpour is also being detained and bail of 1.5 billion rials (around 160,000 dollars) has been set for his release, said Jamshidi.
Both are accused of “spreading lies and material against the system and giving news to foreign websites,” he said.
According to press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Asefi was arrested on August 4 while Ghorbanpour was detained on July 31.