IRAN WATCH CANADA

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

(IFJ/IFEX) -
The following is an IFJ media release:
Women's Magazine Editor from Afghanistan Arrested in Iran
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is extremely concerned at
reports that the editor of a women's rights magazine in Afghanistan was
arrested in Iran on March 4 and continues to be held without charge.
The Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), an IFJ associate,
said Ali Muhaqiq Nasab, editor of the monthly Haqoq-e-Zan (Women's Rights)
magazine,
was reportedly detained by Iranian officials in Qumm, near the
Iranian capital Tehran.
Documents, phones and a computer were allegedly confiscated from his home
at the time of his arrest. The AIJA reports that Nasab's wife was denied
access to see him or seek any information about him, and officials from
Iran's embassy in Kabul would not answer the AIJA's questions.
The arrest of Nasab, a prominent supporter of women's rights, follows the
death sentence imposed by an Afghanistan court on Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh in
January on charges related to accessing materials about women's rights
under Islamic rule.
Kambakhsh, 23, a journalist for the daily Janan-e-Naw, was charged with
blasphemy and accused of distributing articles and books that contained
anti-Islamic sentiment. He is appealing the sentence and an international
campaign is calling for his sentence to be overturned.
Nasab also was accused of blasphemy in Afghanistan in October 2005, and
sentenced to two years in jail. The editor was charged with intentionally
publishing anti-Islamic articles in Haqoq-e-Zan, which questioned harsh
penalties for adultery and theft. He had reprinted articles by an Iranian
scholar criticising the stoning of Muslims who converted to another
religion and the use of corporal punishment for people accused of adultery.
Nasab's sentence was reduced on appeal to six months, despite some
religious groups' calling for the death penalty.
His arrest had been especially controversial because authorities bypassed
Afghan legislation that states journalists cannot be arrested until the
government-appointed Media Commission for Investigating Media-Related
Offences has considered the case.
When the commission did consider Nasab's case, following requests by Afghan
media groups and international human rights groups, it concluded that Nasab
had not deliberately insulted Islam and was not guilty of blasphemy.
The IFJ is alarmed at a trend of serious charges being laid against
journalists who maintain and act on their rights to freedom of expression,
especially in relation to their investigation of women's rights.
"Journalists as guardians of the public interest and free expression are
essential in promoting the rights of all in a free and open society,
including the rights of women," said IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline
Park.
"They must not be arrested without charge by any government. The IFJ calls
on the authorities in Iran, and Iranian officials in Kabul, to provide
valid evidence for Nasab's arrest or ensure he is released immediately."
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.
For further information, contact IFJ Asia-Pacific, tel: +612 9333 0919,
e-mail: ifj@ifj-asia.org, or the IFJ, International Press Centre, Residence
Palace, Block C, 155 Rue de la Loi, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium, tel: +322 235
2200 / 2207, fax: +322 235 2219, e-mail: rachel.cohen@ifj.org, Internet:
http://www.ifj.org/
The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of IFJ.
In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit IFJ.


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