Three more journalists arrested in Iran

Sunday, July 13, 2003 - ©2003

TEHRAN, July 13 (AFP) - Three more Iranian journalists were arrested on Saturday, taking the total currently behind bars to 21, the student ISNA news agency reported.

Hossein Bastani and Vahid Ostad-Pour of the pro-reform Yas-e-No daily, and Shahram Mohammadi-Nia, director of the weekly Vaght (Time), were summoned by Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi and then arrested, a Yas-e-No colleague told ISNA.

Bastani is famed for his political commentaries against the conservatives in Yas-e-No, the mouthpiece of the Islamic Iran Particiapation Front (IIPF), Iran's main reformist party led by Mohammad-Reza Khatami, brother of President Mohammad Khatami.

He is also a government employee charged with preparing news bulletins for President Khatami's office, press reports said.

Mohammadi-Nia has been accused of publishing an "inappropriate photograph and article," ISNA said, adding that "he was sent to jail since he could not post bail of 100 million rials" (more than 12,000 dollars).

Iraj Jamshidi, chief editor of the Asia financial daily which was suspended Monday for publishing a front page picture of banned opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, remains in jail despite posting the required bail of two billion rials (245,000 dollars), his paper said Saturday.

Yas-e-No reported that his brother Esmaiel Jahmshidi, a member of Iran's Writers Association, was also arrested on Wednesday.

On Saturday Iranian authorities announced the death of an Iranian-Canadian journalist, arrested last month while taking photographs outside Evin prison in northern Tehran.

Zahra Kazemi, 54, was arrested around June 24 after photographing families demonstrating the arrests of student protestors outside the prison, an event the Iranian authorities said she was not authorized to cover.

Kazemi died on Friday night after suffering a stroke, said Mohammad Hossein Khoshvaght, director of the foreign newspapers and media office at the culture and Islamic guidance ministry.

International media rights body Reporters Without Borders expressed its shock at Kazemi's death and held the Iranian authorities responsible for her death after what it described as her arbitrary arrest and lack of suitable medical attention.

The Canadian government and Kazemi's son Stephan called for her body to be returned to Canada for an autopsy, after Khoshvaght said it "has been handed over to the coroner and the authorities, given that she had Iranian nationality," apparently indicating that the remains would not be repatriated to Canada.