Free Expression Organizations to Iran: Release Blogger Hossein Derakhshan
LONDON, TORONTO, NEW YORK, Sept. 28
ARTICLE 19, CJFE, CPJ, Index on Censorship and PEN Canada join
together to condemn the excessive prison sentence of 19 and a half years
handed down to Canadian-Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan
LONDON, TORONTO, NEW YORK, Sept. 28 /CNW/ - A group of leading free
expression organizations has come together to express dismay at the
sentence handed down to blogger Hossein Derakhshan. Although the
prosecutor's call for the death penalty was not approved, the sentence
against Hossein Derakhshan represents a serious violation of Iranian
obligations under international law. It is clear that Derakhshan,
charged with cooperating with hostile countries, spreading propaganda
and insulting religious figures, was sentenced for merely enjoying the
right to freedom of expression.
Reports from former cell mates indicate that Derakhshan has been
tortured while in prison and has been the subject of harsh
interrogations. ARTICLE 19, CJFE, Index on Censorship and PEN Canada
believe that Derakhshan remains at risk for as long as he is in prison,
and that the extreme length of the sentence adds to the danger that he
faces. Derakhshan has been held in Evin prison for almost two years, but
his case only went to trial last summer.
The 19 and a half year prison sentence was announced on the conservative
website Mashreghnews.ir this morning. The sentence also includes
several fines - €30,750, US $2,900, and £200.
The free speech groups call on the Iranian government to immediately
release Derakhshan and meet its commitment to protect basic human rights
and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. The groups
also ask the international community to continue to hold Iran to its
obligations and to support Iranian bloggers, journalists and writers to
do their work without fear of imprisonment or reprisal.
Prison is no place for Hossein Derakhshan or for the dozens of other
writers, journalists, academics and bloggers who continue to languish in
ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works
around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of
expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) champions the
free expression rights of journalists and media workers around the
world. In Canada, we monitor, defend and promote free expression and
access to information. We encourage and support individuals and groups
to be vigilant in the protection of their own and others' free
expression rights. We are active participants and builders of the global
free expression community.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent,
nonprofit organization founded in 1981. We promote press freedom
worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news
without fear of reprisal.
Index on Censorship is amongst Britain's leading organisations
promoting freedom of expression. With its global profile, its website
provides up-to-the-minute news and information on free expression from
around the world. Our events and projects put our causes into action.
Our award-winning magazine shines a light on these vital issues through
original, challenging and intelligent writing.
PEN Canada is committed to defending freedom of opinion and
the peaceable expression of such opinion, as guaranteed by Article 19 of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It campaigns on behalf of
writers around the world persecuted for the expression of their
thoughts. In Canada, it supports the right to freedom of expression as
enshrined in Section 2 (b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. PEN
Canada is one of 145 centres of PEN International, the oldest freedom of
expression organization in the world, founded in London in 1921.