Iran: Jailhouse For Journalists

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 13, 2010

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Not exactly a record to be proud of:

Journalists have become a prime target in an Iranian government crackdown on the opposition following last June’s disputed presidential election, with 52 of them currently held — making Iran the top jailer of journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The wave of arrests, which has only accelerated recently, has sent a chill through journalists in Iran at a time when the opposition is struggling to maintain its challenge against the government in the face of a heavy crackdown on pro-reform figures.

In response, a sort of “underground” journalism has emerged, said Reza Valizadeh, 32, who used to work for the state-run radio and television but who fled the country amid the postelection crackdown.

“We have a kind of guerrilla journalists, who wear masks, have no names, write under pseudonyms and send e-mails without mentioning their real names to news outlets outside Iran, or publish in weblogs with pseudonyms,” said Valizadeh, who now lives in Paris.

“A very, very bitter and black period awaits journalists,” he told The Associated Press.

Cue the Leveretts, who will doubtless be along shortly to tell us that Iranian journalists enjoy unparalleled freedoms, thanks to the great and good Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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