In advance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, the U.S. State Department highlighted emblematic cases of journalists around the world who have been targeted because of their profession - journalists who have been imprisoned because they ran afoul of people in power who refuse to allow the truth to be known -- about themselves or their societies or their governments.
This year, the journalists featured in the State Department’s #Free the Press Campaign come from places across the globe, including Cuba, Uzbekistan, China, Russia and Iran.
The Iranian journalist is Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, who’s been held in Evin prison since July 2007. He reported on torture in Iranian prisons, women’s rights issues, and cases of human rights abuses against Iran’s ethnic minorities. In July of 2007, Kaboudvand was arrested and charged with acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state. A Revolutionary Court ultimately sentenced him to 11 years in prison.
At a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby noted that Mr. Kaboudvand has reportedly suffered several heart attacks in custody, as well as serious kidney and intestinal problems, and that he has been refused appropriate medical treatment:
“Kaboudvand has now served nearly nine years of his sentence. Iran’s penal code allows for early release after prisoners have served more than half of a sentence over ten years. He has reportedly been recommended for release by the warden of Evin Prison.”
The State Department calls on the Iranian government to release Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand and all other Iranian journalists and citizen journalists who are imprisoned simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The United States also urges the Iranian government to respects its citizens’ right to free expression and allow journalists to work in Iran without fear of violence and persecution.