The Iranian judiciary has denied a temporary leave to jailed Iranian journalist Siamak Ghaderi, who was arrested last year.
Ghaderi worked for more than 18 years at the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and was dismissed last year for publishing critical views of the government on his weblog, Irna-ye-ma (Our IRNA).
He was then sentenced to four years in prison for "propaganda against the regime, disturbing public sensibilities and publishing falsehoods."
In the wake of the controversial presidential elections of 2009, Iranian journalists have experienced increased pressure from government officials. Over the past two years, according to opposition reports, 108 journalists have been arrested; some have been released but many are still behind bars serving harsh sentences.
Most recently, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, the deputy head of the Iranian Association of Journalists and a spokesman for the Society for the Defence of Press Freedom, was summoned by the authorities to serve out a 16-month prison term.
In an open letter, Shamsolvaezin said serving time in jail has become the price demanded from every Iranian journalist and the only way for journalists to maintain their independence.
Reporters Without Borders refers to Iran as the "biggest jail for journalists" in the Middle East. According to the group’s latest report, Iran has the worst conditions for journalists, with the exception of Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.