NewsSpecial WireRSF: Iran is “Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists”

RSF: Iran is “Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists”

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Iran Focus: London, Feb. 13 – The international press freedoms watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday that Iran continues to be the “Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists”. Iran Focus

London, Feb. 13 – The international press freedoms watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday that Iran continues to be the “Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists”.

“When asked abroad about human rights violations and imprisonment of dissidents and members of religious and sexual minorities, Ahmadinejad insists that Iranians are ‘the freest people in the world.’ But the regime’s persecution of journalists and human rights activists continued in 2007”, RSF said in its annual report.

Iran “remained the Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists, with more than 50 journalists jailed in 2007. Ten of them were still in prison at the end of the year”, it said.

“Evin prison, overlooking Teheran, is the region’s biggest jail for journalists and at the end of the year, five journalists were still languishing there for ‘undermining national security’ by simply being outspoken.

“Hundreds of people were executed in 2007 and the supreme court confirmed in November a death sentence on freelance journalist Adnan Hassanpour, accused of ‘undermining national security,’ ‘spying,’ ‘separatist propaganda’ and being a mohareb (fighter against God).

“More than 50 journalists were prosecuted in 2007 and the independent and opposition media were targets of the usual financial and bureaucratic harassment. The ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, which is responsible for the media, ordered at least four publications to shut down permanently. A dozen papers, including the well-known Shargh and Madaresseh, were temporarily closed pending a court decision and news websites were also targeted.

“Iran has the biggest number of threatened cyber-dissidents in the Middle East and dozens of websites are shut down each year”, the report added.

In October, RSF ranked Iran in 166th place out of 169 countries on its annual world press freedom rankings.

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