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Author Topic:   Four journalists sentenced to four to ten years in prison
posted January 15, 2001 09:48     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reporters Sans Frontiers

January 13, 2001

The families of the journalists and intellectuals facing charges as a result of taking part in the Berlin conference announced on January 13 that their relatives have been handed down extremeley heavy sentences of imprisonment.

Four journalists; Khalil Rostamkhani, Akbar Ganji, Ezzatollah Sahabi and Meranghiz Kar were jailed for periods from four to ten years.

"We are shocked by these sentences. It is quite simply unacceptable that journalists should be sentenced to terms of imprisonment solely for having peacefully expressed their opinions. These latest sentences provide fresh proof that justice is being used as a weapon in the hands of conservatives to silence all dissenting voices. Since April; they have, moreover, closed more than 30 reformist publications" said Robert Ménard, general-secretary of Reporters sans frontičres (RSF) .

RSF considers Ayatollah Ali Khameini one of 23 "predators" of freedom of the press in the world. Iran has become the Middle-East,s biggest prison for journalists. Ten are currently imprisoned in Teheran.

With the exception of Khalil Rostamkhani, who did not take part; Akbar Ganji, Ezzatollah Sahabi and Meranghiz Kar participated in a conference held in Berlin on April 7 and 8, 2000 under the title "Iran after the

The gathering was termed "anti-Islamic" and "anti-revolutionary" by Iranian television, which broadcast part of it on April 18.

The journalists, who are mostly relatives or supporters of President Khatami, were accused of having "damaged national security".

Akbar Ganji, journalist with Sobh-é- Emrouz, was jailed for ten years and; at the end of his sentence to internal exile (meaning no right to leave the country nor to live in Teheran). The journalist, imprisoned since
April 22 at Evine jail in Teheran, said during one hearing in his trial that he had been tortured.

Khalil Rostamkhani; journalist with the Daily News and Iran Echo and the director of a translation agency, was jailed for nine years for organising the conference even though he did not actually attend. He was arrested on
May 8, 2000 then released, on bail, on November 16. During his trial the prosecution asked for the death sentence against him

Ezzatollah Sahabi, editor of the newspapaper Iran-é-Farda, was sentenced to four and a half years in jail, He was arrested on June 26 2000 then released on bail on August 21. He was rearrested on December 17 and is
currently held at Evine jail. He is 75 years old.

Meranghiz Kar, a writer, journalist for several reformist publications, and a lawyer, was jailed for four years. She was arrested on April 29, 2000 then released on bail on June 21.

The journalists have the right to appeal. Some 15 media professionals are currently facing charges.

Among them is Hassan Yussefi Echkevari; journalist with Neshat and Iran-é-Farda, who has been accused of "subversive activities against national security" and "defaming the authorities", "damaging the standing
of the clergy" and of being a "mohareb" (fighter against God). Jailed since August 5 2000, his sentence has never been made public.

He is at risk of the death penalty.

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