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Press Release

Free Expression Organizations to Iran: Release Blogger Hossein Derakhshan

Canada NewsWire

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 Iran's jails.

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.

www.article19.org

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. 

www.cjfe.org

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.

www.cpj.org

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.

www.indexoncensorship.org

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.

www.pencanada.ca

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