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Three prominent women writers and journalists released on bail

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN welcomes the release of prominent women writers and journalists Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Jila Baniyaghoub, but remains seriously concerned that all three are still facing undisclosed charges for organising a demonstration in Tehran on 4 March 2007. International PEN fears that these three journalists have been targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - to which Iran is a signatory - and calls for all charges against them to be dropped.

According to PEN's information, Jila Baniyaghoub was released on bail on 9 March 2007, and Shadi Sadr and Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh on 19 March 2007. They were among thirty-three women to be arrested during a demonstration on 4 March 2007 in front of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran in protest against the trial of five members of women's organisations who were arrested in previous demonstrations. All except Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Jila Baniyaghoub were released without charge within 48 hours.

The three women are believed to be held for drafting a statement calling for the demonstration. All are said to be facing charges of "disturbing public order" and one of the lawyers representing Shadi Sadr and Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh reported that both women were also facing other undisclosed charges. It is feared that these could include the charge of "acting against state security", which carries a prison sentence of between two and five years.

Shadi Sadr is a well-known writer, journalist and lawyer. She has written many articles and books on women's rights in Iran, and created Zanan-e Iran, the first website entirely dedicated to women's rights issues in the country.

Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh is the editor of the quarterly journal "Zanan" and has been previously imprisoned for posting articles on reformist websites.

Jila Baniyaghoub is a prominent journalist and editor of the Iranian Women's Society website and the women's section of "Sarmaye" newspaper. She was recently acquitted of charges of "acting against national security" and "participating in an illegal demonstration" for covering a demonstration attended by thousands of women on 12 June 2006 calling for legal reforms.

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