Iranians further isolated by contacts ban
Amnesty International fears the Iranian authorities are implementing a programme that will isolate Iranians from the outside world after contact with more than 60 foreign institutions, including human rights organizations, was banned. A statement issued by the Iranian authorities on Tuesday also designates as subversive a number of foreign media outlets, thereby criminalizing contacts with them. The move leaves anyone making such contacts at risk of prosecution and appears designed to hide from the world the true scale of what is happening in Iran and to obstruct reporting on human rights violations, the organization said. It also follows the recent arrests of journalists and human rights defenders, who have been instrumental in letting the world know of the gross rights violations occurring in Iran, including the 2009 recipient of the Martin Ennals Award, Emadeddin Baghi. Such moves are a breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party, which guarantees freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media. Crimes against national security in Iran attract penalties from three months to ten years' imprisonment. In some circumstances, they can attract the death penalty. Some of the media outlets and institutions mentioned were referred to in the general indictments read out at the initial sessions of the "show trials" held in August of those detained after the disputed presidential election in June 2009. The organizations were accused by the prosecution of fomenting a "soft revolution" in Iran.