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MID: Iran should free detained journalists, bloggers: watchdog

25 Jun 2009 3:19 AM

VIENNA, June 24 AFP - Media watchdog IPI called on Iran Wednesday to stop jailing reporters and bloggers, and release those already detained after disputed elections that have led to widespread protests around the country.

"The International Press Institute appeals to the Iranian government to immediately cease and desist from jailing reporters and citizen journalists and to lift any restrictions on their freedom to move and report freely," IPI director David Dadge wrote in a letter to Iran's ambassador to Austria, Ebrahim Sheibany.

"Moreover, the Iranian government should immediately release the at least 30 journalists and bloggers who have been jailed since the elections," he wrote.

Scores of journalists and reformist politicians have been arrested following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election on June 12, which triggered a week of mass protests in Iran and charges of voter fraud.

The Iranian authorities also ordered the expulsion of several foreign journalists, including the BBC's correspondent in Iran, and banned the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya from broadcasting amid a crackdown on foreign media, which they accuse of fuelling the protests.

"The Iranian people and the world have a right to information," Dadge wrote in his letter, noting the increasing use of the internet and social networking sites to get information out and communicate in Iran.

Respecting press freedoms and protesters' rights could only help Iran's credibility as a democracy, he argued.

"It is not the role of any government to act as a filter between news and the public," he added.