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Iran: More arrests of journalists shine spotlight on continuing restrictions on freedom of expression

Wednesday 30 July 2014 - 1:00am

Jason Rezaian

London, 30 July 2014

The continued detention of three journalists, arrested in Iran last week, is yet another sign of increased pressure on the media and restrictions on free speech in the Islamic Republic of Iran, PEN international, the world association of writers said today. The organisation called for their immediate and unconditional release if they are held solely in connection with their legitimate activities as journalists.

Jason Rezaian, a reporter with the Washington Post who holds both US and Iranian nationality, his wife Yeganeh Salehi, Iran correspondent for the UAE newspaper The National, were arrested at their home on 25 July 2014. Two unidentified freelance photo journalists who are also US citizens were also arrested on the same day; one has since been released.

No official reason has yet been given for the arrests.

Iran is one of the worst jailers of writers – including journalists, scholars, bloggers and filmmakers - in the world.  Well over 20 writers are serving prison terms for the peaceful expression of their views. Others are in detention awaiting trial, including at least 15 who have been arrested since May this year.

"Journalists are all too often the pawns in the power politics playing out in the country. Instead of locking them up, the Iranian authorities should recognise the value that a vibrant but critical press can bring to the healthy government of a county," said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.

"If these three journalists are held solely in connection with their peaceful journalistic activities, they should be released immediately and unconditionally."

In recent weeks, PEN International has issued two Rapid Action Alerts on behalf of journalists imprisoned or detained in Iran.  Marzieh Rasouli began serving a two-year prison term, with 50 lashes on 8 July, while Saba Azarpeik remains under interrogation in an unknown location where she is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment since her arrest on 28 May 2014.

For more information/press/interviews contact Sahar Halaimzai: +44 (0) 207 405 0338

PEN International promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. Founded in London in 1921, PEN International – PEN’s Secretariat – connects an international community of writers. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Through Centres in over 100 countries, PEN operates on all five continents. PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO. PEN International is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088.