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Free Mojtaba Saminejad!


Some bloggers get fired. Others go to jail.

From ZDNet India:

Javad Gholam Tamayomi, Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafihzadeh, Hanif Mazroi, Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Fereshteh Ghazi are some of the most courageous people you've never met.

Not exactly household names, but each deserves a standing ovation.

During a crackdown against Iran's nascent online press last year, these sundry online journalists and bloggers got chucked into jail. The cyber seven were subsequently released but continue to invite the periodic and not-so-tender attention of the local police.

A blogger named Mojtaba Saminejad, also arrested on trumped-up charges at the beginning of November after condemning the jailings in his blog, is still being held in prison.

Increasingly, it seems, blogging can get you in big trouble. And as the number of Web logs and Internet news sites grows, journalists and bloggers regularly find themselves at odds with governments that are unenthusiastic about freedom of expression.

More recently, another Iranian blogger, Arash Sigarchi, has been jailed:

Sigarchi was arrested on January 17, after responding to a summons from the intelligence ministry in the northern city of Rashat. He has been held at Rashat's Lakan Prison where he has been denied the right to see a lawyer and bail has been set at 200 million rials (about $25,000 U.S.). The authorities have put pressure on his mother to deny that her son has been arrested.

His weblog had been banned by authorities in Iran for speaking out against recent arrests of cyberjournalists and bloggers and is inaccessible within the country. In addition to his blog, he is the editor of the daily Gylan Emroz. A few days before his arrest he was interviewed by two foreign radio stations, the BBC World Service and Radio Farda.

On August 27 of last year he was imprisoned for several days for an article, illustrated with photographs, of a rally in Tehran by families of prisoners who were executed in 1989.

Nearly 20 people have been arrested over the past three months in a crackdown against the online press. Apart from Sigarchi, another weblogger, Mojtaba Saminejad, is still in prison.

As this report suggests, the Islamic world is still not very Internet-friendly. Post the wrong thing on your blog, and you could end up like this


Or worse.

And this young lady thought she had problems.

UPDATE: There's more information on protecting the free speech of bloggers at Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Bloggers and Bloggers Without Borders. The first of these organizations (aka Reporters sans frontières) is currently soliciting examples of blogs defending free expression for a future online competition. "We want to draw attention to the importance of weblogs," they write, "in countries where the traditional press is under the control of the authorities."

Posted by Rodger on January 25, 2005 at 07:43 AM | Permalink


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