Friday 26 June 2009

NUJ protests over media arrests in Iran

The NUJ has called for the release of all journalists under arrest in Iran and an end to restrictions placed on foreign media.
In a letter delivered to the Iranian embassy today, NUJ deputy general sectretary Michelle Stanistreet highlighted the arrests of members of the Association of Iranian journalists, a sister organisation of the NUJ.
Her letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said:

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the National Union of Journalists, which represents 38,000 journalists in the UK and Ireland, I am writing to express my deep concern about news of the arrest of Karim Arghandepour, a well-known Iranian journalist who is also an elected member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) of which we are an affiliate.
According to the Association of Iranian Journalists, Karim was arrested along with other journalists, including Jason (Lasson) Athanasiadis of Greece who was working for the Washington Times, in the wake of protests and controversy that have followed the recent presidential election.
We are also concerned for the safety of Ali Mazrooei, the Chair of the Association of Iranian journalists, who is currently in hiding for his own personal security. Like other journalists’ leaders he is fearful of being targeted by the authorities for his staunch defence of journalists and their right to work independently.
These colleagues are in our minds during these difficult days when we have witnessed the targeting of media which has included the arbitrary arrest of Iranian journalists, heavy restrictions imposed on national and foreign media, and the unprecedented blocking of internet sites.
All of this is just cause for concern. These acts violate Iran’s commitments to international standards of human rights, press freedom and freedom of expression which are framed in the Iranian constitution.
On behalf of all members of the National Union of Journalists we call on your government to act: to immediately release Karim Arghandepour and all other Iranian journalists; to lift the restrictions currently imposed on local and foreign media; and to restore confidence in Iran’s commitment to protection of the free expression rights as set out in the Constitution.
As a matter of urgency we ask you to guarantee the safety of Ali Mazrooei, Jason (Lasson) Athanasiadis and all Iranian journalists so that they can all return to work free of the threat of arrest and intimidation.
These steps are needed to lift the cloud currently hanging over Iranian journalism.

Yours sincerely,

Michelle Stanistreet
Deputy General Secretary
National Union of Journalists (UK & Ireland)

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