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Arrests in Iran Point to More Violence and Secrecy

July 15, 2009

Being affiliated with a big-name media outlet can add an extra layer of safety for journalist, especially when traveling in unsafe territories where governments aren’t looking for added negative attention. But in Iran, having a name like Newsweek, Getty, or GlobalPost to back you up, won’t keep you out of danger.

Iran isn’t seeking political leverage (as North Korea seems to be doing) or targeting local and freelance journalists where baseless arrests will draw less attention (like Lindhout and Brennan, whose arrests in Somalia have gone virtually unnoticed), so the recent arrests of high profile journalists makes you wonder how bad the stories must be that they are working so hard to keep quiet.

Newsweek’s Tehran correspondent Maziar Bahari has been held in Iran for almost a month with out charge in Iran. The high profile arrested has sparked international attention and as CPJ reports, 100 prominent journalists from 47 different countries (including Ted Koppel, Fareed Zakaria, and Christiane Amanpour) have signed a petition requesting his release.

GlobalPost reporter Iason Athanasiadis was held for three weeks in Tehran. He was reporting on the protests on the ground when he was arrested “in an effort to stifle my on-the-ground reporting and intimidate me,” he said.

Reporters Without Borders announced today that at least eight photojournalists and cameramen have been detained in Iran for unknown reasons. According to the media watchdog, Iran has jailed more bloggers than any other country in the world. They have compiled an extensive list of jailed journalists and the reasons behind their arrests that can be found here.

Reporters Without Borders has also announced the implementation of SOS Presse, a hotline for journalists in danger that is open around the clock and where one of their officials can be immediately reached.

To date, little reason or solid evidence has been given for the arrest of the many journalists, photojournalists and cameramen, and bloggers.

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.