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IRAN: Four journalists jailed on ‘security’ charges

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Four journalists working at the country’s foremost liberal daily newspaper have been arrested and charged with security crimes, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jaffari-Dowlatabadi announced Wednesday.

The four were arrested earlier this week at the offices of Sharq, a prominent daily newspaper associated with the country’s reformist faction, which is under severe pressure from hardliners who have gained the upper hand in the country’s political establishment.

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Those arrested were among the leaders of the newspaper. They included Ali Khodabakhsh, Sharq’s managing director and co-owner; Ahmad Qolami, the editor-in-chief; Kayvan Mehrgan, head of Sharq’s political desk; and Farzaneh Rostai, head of the international desk.

Mehrgan previously was arrested in the unrest that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 reelection. Khodabaksh is a prominent publisher who was a founder of several newspapers that have been shuttered.

The authorities did not disclose the exact nature of the security crimes. But the arrests coincided with National Students Day, when university students stage small protests around the country.

A source told U.S.-funded Radio Farda that the arrests may have been due to the newspaper’s decision to publish a special issue about the country’s student movement.

International human-rights monitors have sounded the alarm over what they describe as the mistreatment and imprisonment of independent journalists in Iran.

-- Los Angeles Times


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