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Reporters At Risk In Iran

Reporters At Risk In Iran
Reporters At Risk In Iran

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The crackdown by the Iranian government against journalists and media outlets in Iran continues.

During recent demonstrations marking the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, a correspondent for Agence-France Press and a journalist who writes for several pro-reform newspapers were arrested in Tehran. A day earlier, an Iranian blogger who heads a human rights committee was also arrested.

In addition, Iran's leading business newspaper, Sarmayeh, which has been critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies, was shut down November 2 on government orders.

The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders says that at least 100 journalists and cyber dissidents have been arrested since the disputed presidential election in June. Twenty-three are still being held. More than 50 journalists have left the country and those who remain are subject to constant harassment.

"Meanwhile," said Reporters without Borders in a statement, "verdicts are beginning to be issued in the Stalinist-style show trial, and it is no surprise that journalists have been given harsh sentences of 5 or 6 years in prison without any possibility of appeal. This situation is intolerable."

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Iran has ratified, declares that "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, [including] freedom to ... receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

It is time the Iranian government lives up to its international obligations and stops trying to block its citizens' access to information. As President Barack Obama has said, "suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away":

"The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech.
If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people."