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Iran: Journalists detained as news restrictions tighten

The Iranian authorities must immediately release dozens of journalists arrested since 12 June and who are at risk of torture in detention, Amnesty International said today as it adopted all of them as prisoners of conscience. “It is shocking that journalists – whose job it is to provide information to others - are being detained, on top of all the other draconian measures the authorities have taken to restrict the free flow of information about what is really happening in Iran.  Rather than trying to investigate alleged abuses, the only message the authorities are sending is that they are seeking to hide the truth, both from their own citizens and the rest of the world.” Dozens of journalists – some who also campaigned for either Mir Hossein Mousavi or Mehdi Karroubi, both candidates in the presidential election, have been detained in the past fortnight with their whereabouts mostly unknown. For example, around 20 of 25 employees of the newspaper Kalameh Sabz arrested at their office in Haft Tir Square on 22 June are still detained and their whereabouts remain unknown. Kalameh Sabz is a newspaper established by presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in 2009, and which has not been published since 14 June. Since the announcement on 13 June that President Ahmadinejad had won the election, the Iranian authorities have imposed severe restrictions on freedom of expression. Access to the internet has been blocked or significantly interrupted. Iranian publications have been banned from publishing information about the unrest. Foreign news journalists have been banned from the streets, and some foreign reporters have been expelled from the country. “If nothing else, the authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of these journalists, ensure that they are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated and allow their families and lawyers access to them,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. “Unless the authorities lift all unlawful restrictions on freedom of expression – which includes the right of journalists to report on events – and release all the journalists arrested, we can only assume they are trying to hide evidence of abuse and further silence any critical voice”.