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Two journalists arrested; trial of nine others continues in camera

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to the head of the magistracy, Ayatollah Sharoudi, RSF protested the arrest of Hechmatollah Tabarzadi, editor of the suspended newspapers "Hoviat-é-Khich" and "Peyam-é-Daneshjou", and Abbas Dalvand, editor of the magazine "Lorestan". "These imprisonments constitute new evidence that the authorities will not put an end to arrests in 2002. We are also concerned about the fate of nine journalists whose in camera trial is currently underway," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general. "We ask you to release Hechmatollah Tabarzadi and Abbas Dalvand, as well as the eighteen other journalists who are currently imprisoned in Iran," he added.

According to the information collected by RSF, Tabarzadi was arrested on 19 January 2002 in Teheran following a court order. The student movement leader was arrested after appearing before the Revolutionary Court on 19 January. His attorney, Mohammad-Ali Safari, says he ignores the motive behind the judge's decision. Tabarzadi was questioned for more than four hours. The editor, who is in his forties, has already been arrested several times in the past three years. He was last imprisoned on 17 April 2001 (see IFEX alert of 19 April 2001). He was released on bail on 29 October without trial. Dalvand was arrested on 6 January. He was previously detained for two days in February 2001 (see IFEX alerts of 20 and 14 February 2001). Charged in May with "publishing insults and false remarks", he was sentenced to nine months in jail and barred from practicing journalism for three years (see IFEX alert of 14 May 2001). The journalist remained free on appeal.

In addition, RSF is concerned about the fate of nine journalists whose in camera trial opened on 8 January. Reza Alijani, Ezatollah Sahabi, Hoda Saber, Saide Madani ("Iran-é-Farda"), Taghi Rahmani ("Omid-é-Zangan"), Ali-Reza Redjaï, Mohammad Bastehnaghar ("Asr-é-Azadegan"), Reza Raïs-Toussi and Morteza Kazemian ("Fath") are charged with "subversive activities against the state" and "blasphemy", for which they face the death penalty. Among the journalists, five have been imprisoned for over one year, including Sahabi, aged 75.

On 10 January, Mohammad Ali Jedari-Roroughi, Alijani and Rahmani's lawyer, withdrew from the trial, explaining that he was not being given the opportunity to represent his clients effectively. "I have not been informed of the charges against my clients and have not been given the opportunity to study their dossiers," the attorney explained, justifying his decision. Sahabi's first hearing took place on 20 January. According to one of the accused's relatives, his attorney Gholamali Riyahi was the only person allowed to attend the hearing. Alijani and several others wrote to Judge Hadad, asking for access to their files. Their request was denied.

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