Reporters Without Borders spoke out against the arrests of Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh and journalist Alireza Reaji.
Seifzadeh, who has defended several imprisoned journalists, managed to inform his family of his arrest on April 22, two weeks after the fact. Seifzadeh is currently in the custody of the intelligence ministry in the northwestern city of Urumiyeh, charged with “acting against national security.” Seifzadeh’s son was allowed a two-minute visit with him, after which he reported that his father was limping and in ill health.
Seifzadeh is a founding member of the Human Rights Defenders Centre founded by Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.
Last October, Seifzadeh was sentenced to nine years in prison and a 10-year ban from practicing law, all because the government now deems “illegal” his connections with the Human Rights Defenders Centre.
Another prominent lawyer at the centre, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was also arrested and is currently in jail serving an 11-year sentence.
Reporters Without Borders maintains that the Islamic Republic is systematically silencing human rights lawyers and urges international legal associations to speak out against these actions and demand the lawyers’ immediate release.
The press rights organization also reports that Alireza Rejai, a journalist and prominent contributor to reformist newspapers, is currently being held by the government in an unknown location. He has been accused of “activities against national security” by Fars News, which has close ties with the Iranian security services and the Revolutionary Guards.
Rejai worked for several reformist newspapers, including Jameeh and Tous, which are currently banned. He is also an executive member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, which was down in 2009, during the crackdown on protests that followed the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders reports that the pro-government media are also being caught in the middle of a rivalry between factions led by Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Aytollah Khamenei. Pro-Ahamdienjad websites have been blocked for publishing statements in support of the president’s thwarted decision to remove his intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi.
Ahmadinejad recently accepted Moslehi’s resignation, but just two hours later, Moslehi was re-instated as minister by Ayatollah Khamenei.
THe head of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) was summoned by Tehran’s prosecutor for failing to publish in its entirety, the Supreme Leader’s statement regarding this affair.
Reporters Without Borders says: “After closing many newspapers and censoring the Internet, Ali Khamenei is now targeting the country’s official news agency, which he would like to reduce to nothing more than the mouthpiece of his own office.”