TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Iranian Internet Journalists Face Trial Next Week

Iranian Internet Journalists Face Trial Next Week

Lisa Minter (
Tue, 9 Nov 2004 11:12:31 EST

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A group of journalists working with pro-reform
online media will go on trial in Iran next week accused of spreading
propaganda against the Islamic state, a judiciary official was quoted
as saying on Tuesday.

At least nine journalists writing on online journals known as weblogs
and news-based Internet sites have been detained by the hardline
judiciary since September, newspapers and judiciary officials have

"They will be tried next week in a public court," the Mardomsalari
newspaper quoted the head of Tehran's Justice Department, Abbasali
Alizadeh, as saying.

The Internet has become a refuge for reformist journalists who lost
their jobs when the judiciary closed more than 100 pro-reform
publications in the past four years.

Reformists, including President Mohammad Khatami have denounced the
arrests as politically motivated and accused hard-liners of trying to
curtail limited press freedoms.

The journalists will face charges of "propagating against the regime,
acting against national security, disturbing public opinion and
offending Allah," the Etemad daily said last week.

Nemat Ahmadi, lawyer of some of the detainees, have said they are
being held in solitary confinement and have not been allowed to meet
their lawyers or families.

International human rights groups criticized the
lack of freedom of expression in Iran which they say has more
journalists in jail than any other country in the Middle East.

"We are talking about rank and file activists working on social and
cultural issues," said Joe Stork, Washington director of Human Right
Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division.

"Basic freedoms are being sacrificed as conservative leaders try to
purge critics from society," he said.

Human Rights Watch urged the European Union to step up pressure on
Iran to end what it said was torture and ill-treatment of detainees
and restore freedom of expression.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Note the second to last paragraph in
the article quoted above:

"Basic freedoms are being sacrificed as conservative leaders try to
purge critics from society."

Does that sound like any other country in the world you know of or are
familiar with right now? PAT]

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