#Human Rights
Ahmed Shaheed, UN, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ban ki-Moon, EU, European Parliament, State Department
United States of America

UPDATE: July 23, 2013: Imprisoned journalist Fariba Pajouh, arrested July 10, is being held in solitary confinement without charges, a member of her family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

"Fariba remains in solitary confinement and her interrogations continue. She told us during a telephone call yesterday [July 20] that she is well and that she will be released soon and for us not to worry about her. But she said the same things to us 10 days ago when she was first arrested. Is it possible for someone to be in solitary confinement inside Evin Prison and be 'well'? Certainly she says these things so we won't worry," the source said.

Security forces arrested Fariba Pajouh, a journalist who worked for reformist newspapers, on July 10 at her home. Four security force members searched her home, confiscated her laptop computer and satellite receiver, and transferred her to Evin Prison. Fariba Pajouh has been unemployed in recent months.

The family member told the Campaign that the family has visited the Shahid Moghaddas Judicial Complex several times in order to pursue Fariba Pajouh's case, but their efforts have been futile. "The only way we can pursue her case is to go to the Shahid Moghaddas Hall of Justice. We went there three times last week, but they didn't give a suitable reply to our queries. All they told us was that she is banned from having visitors and that they would be sending her case file to the Second Branch of Investigations," the family member said.

Fariba Pajouh was first arrested in 2009, in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election. She was released 124 days later on bail of US$50,000. A lower court sentenced the journalist to one year in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime, and Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court later suspended her prison sentence for five years.

"They haven't yet filed any charges against her. Fariba herself said in her telephone call that there have been some ambiguities that needed to be clarified. I don't know what the ambiguities were about. Fariba has not worked with any media since April of this year, and prior to that, she was occasionally working with Etemad Newspaper. She wasn't even in Tehran during the elections. I don't really know what to say. She hasn't done anything against the law and has not had any special activities, either," said the family member.

When asked what request the family has of the Iranian Judiciary officials, the family member said, "We would ask them to release Fariba. Fariba was not planning to leave the country. They had returned her passport to her, and she could have easily left, but she didn't. She was living here and didn't want to escape, so why is it necessary to take her to solitary confinement

On Tuesday, July 23, 2013 Reporters Without Borders issued the following report on behalf of Fariba Pajouh:

Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the health of Fariba Pajoh, a journalist with various reformist newspapers and former contributor to Radio France Internationale. Arrested on 9 July, she is now in solitary confinement in Evin prison’s Section 209, which is controlled by the intelligence ministry.

Pajoh had been in poor health ever since spending 120 days held incommunicado following her first arrest in 2009. After she was released, she received medical treatment for more than a year.

“Fariba Pajoh was arrested again arbitrarily, probably on the orders of one of her former jailers in the intelligence ministry and clearly without any legal grounds,” Reporters Without Borders was told by Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

“Unfortunately, Iran’s judicial system is not independent,” Ebadi added. “The judges and the courts do as they are told by intelligence officials. This situation constitutes a grave threat to freedom of information in Iran.”

Journalists, dissidents and their families are often the victims of arbitrary arrest or other forms of reprisal. Since the start of the year, Reporters Without Borders has registered more than 70 cases of threats targeting netizens and journalists in exile who work for news media based abroad.

The relatives of citizens regarded as “subversive” are routinely summoned for questioning by intelligence ministry officials or are subjected to harassment and intimidation by means of SMS messages or phone calls.

Reporters Without Borders concluded by issuing the following appeal:
“We urge the international community and the European Union in particular to react and to take whatever measures are necessary to protect threatened or imprisoned journalists, many of whom work for state-owned media in EU member countries,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Above all, we appeal to Catherine Ashton, as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to take a firm stand against such premeditated violations of international law by the Iranian government.”

July 12, 2013: Despite President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s call for a relaxation of censorship of media, there is no sign of a let-up in pressure on Iranian journalists.

In the latest case, Fariba Pajouh, a correspondent for reformist newspapers, was detained on Wednesday morning, July 10.

Fariba Pajouh was born in Iran on June 19 ,1989. An Iranian journalist, she has worked for the ILNA (the Iranian Labor News Agency) and newspapers such as Etemad-e Melli. She is a member of the International Federation of Journalists.

A family member told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “One female and three male agents went to Fariba’s home. They searched her home for about an hour, and then took her laptop computer and other personal items, including the satellite TV receiver, with them. They didn’t say what the reason for the arrest was. They only said that they would return her soon.”

Pajouh was first arrested following the disputed 2009 Presidential election and released on bail of $50,000 after 124 days in detention. While Pajouh was in prison, her parents reported that she suffered severe physical and mental pain. She was sentenced to one year in prison, later suspended for five years by an appeals court. The journalist has not been working with any media outlet recently.

The relative said, “When the forces took her, they didn’t say anything. During her telephone calls to her family, she said that she does not know the reason for her arrest. I really don’t know what she did. I only know that she has not committed any wrongdoing against the law. She is very conservative and we really don’t know why she was arrested.”

Pajouh has been allowed to call her family twice: “She said she spent the night in solitary confinement, but that her conditions are good. She sounded good, too. She told her family not to worry.”

WHEREAS: Fariba Pajouh is clearly a prisoner of conscience whose previous imprisonment and current arrest are obviously based solely on her peaceful pursuit of her journalistic profession;

AND WHEREAS: The persecution of journalists constitutes a clear and flagrant violaion of Article 19 of the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights--to which Iran is a signatory state--as well as Article 24 of the Iranian Constitution;

THEREFORE: We the undersigned demand that the international community bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Fariba Pajouh, all other imprisoned journalists, and indeed ALL prisoners of conscience in Iran.

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The Free Iranian Journalist Fariba Pajouh petition to Ahmed Shaheed, UN, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ban ki-Moon, EU, European Parliament, State Department was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.