English PEN protests the 3 year prison sentence handed down to journalist Ali Farahbakhsh on 26 March 2007. We fear that journalist Ali Farahbakhsh may be detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and call for his immediate and unconditional release. PEN is furthermore seriously concerned about reports that he is in poor health, and seeks immediate assurances that he is granted all necessary medical care.
According to PEN’s information, Ali Farahbakhsh, a former economics and foreign affairs reporter for the banned reformist dailies Yas-e No, Shargh and Sobh-e Emrooz, was sentenced on 26 March 2007 to 3 years in prison and a steep fine of 52,000 euros on charges of ‘espionage’ and ‘stealing from foreigners’. His lawyers said they would appeal the sentence. Farahbakhsh is still being detained at Tehran’s Evin prison and reportedly suffers from a stomach ulcer that is not being well treated.
Ali Farahbakhsh was first arrested on 27 November 2006 on his return from Bangkok where he had been attending a conference organised by a Thai human rights organisation. His arrest was not made public until 6 January 2007. The head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, reportedly authorised a bail order to be issued for Farahbakhsh’s release some weeks ago, but in spite of this he remains detained. He has been held in section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison since his arrest. His trial began on 26 February 2007 and he was accused of ‘espionage’ and ‘stealing from foreigners’. Farahbakhsh has been allowed family visits, and his wife and mother report that he is in poor health and held in solitary confinement.
In an interview with the Persian-language online news service Rooz on 2 February 2007, his mother claimed that Farahbakhsh had a heart attack during his first week in detention. She also reported that her son was interrogated about his attendance at the Bangkok conference.
Farahbakhsh is only one of many prominent Iranian writers and human activists that have recently been targeted in connection with their attendance at international conferences, although none have been detained for more than 24 hours. More background information, provided by Amnesty International can be found here at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130182007
Please send appeals:
Protesting the three-year prison sentence given to Ali Farahbakhsh, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory;
Expressing serious concern about reports that he is in poor health, and seeking assurances that he is given unrestricted access to medical treatment and is being treated humanely in detention.
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via Judiciary website: Iranjudiciary.org/feedback_en.html
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
It may be more effective to send appeals to Iranian representatives in London:
His Excellency Mr Rasoul Movahedian
16 Prince’s Gate
London SW7 1PT
Fax: (020) 7589 4440
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/iraneconomicjournalistalifarahbakhshsentencedto3yearsinprison/