The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Tehran Province Journalists Association (TPJA), are calling on the Iranian authorities to free all journalists and media workers imprisoned in the country for simply doing their job and stop the ongoing crackdown on the media.
The IFJ and the TPJA said in a statement on March 16 that 15 journalists are currently being held behind bars for their coverage of six months of anti-government nationwide protests.
A total of 62 journalists have been held in relation to the ongoing demonstrations and have subsequently been released, most of them on bail, pending trial.
Penalties handed down against journalists range from one year to 18 years in prison. Other sentences include community service, lashes, exit restrictions and bans on working as a journalist.
According to the TPJA, more than 100 journalists have been arrested, jailed or summoned during the past six months.
“The crackdown on the media continues,” the statement said, citing the March 5 arrest of journalist Ali Portabatabaei for his coverage of a wave of poisonings at girls’ schools and the March 7 announcement by the judiciary that criminal charges were being filed against Hammihan newspaper, Shargh newspaper and Rouydad24 website for similar reasons.
Some Iranians suggest that schoolgirls were being targeted for taking part in anti-government protests.
The TPJA has sent an open letter to the head of the judiciary, asking him to release all jailed journalists before the Persian New Year holiday season, which starts on March 21.
“These journalists were merely carrying out their professional duties by informing their media [about unfolding events] and did not commit any wrongdoing to deserve such extreme severity", the letter reads.