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Iran Threatens Iraqi Journos with Prison Terms
Harassment, Censorship of Correspondents Accompanying Vice-PM on Official Visit
08/15/2008 3:56 PM ET
Iraqi Deputy PM Barham Salih meets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran in2006.
AFP.
Iraqi Deputy PM Barham Salih meets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran in2006.

Iraqi journalists accompanying their country’s deputy prime minister on an official visit to Iran have been harassed and threatened with arrests and imprisonment by the authorities in the Islamic Republic.

Iraqi journalists traveling with Barham Salih, the deputy PM, to Tehran contacted the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) by telephone, reporting that Iranian security authorities threatened Iraqi journalists with ten-year prison sentences “because of their objection to harassment that they experienced” in Tehran, including the Iranian authorities forbidding them to transmit reports to their media outlets, because they contained footage of harassment that the journalists had experienced in the Iranian capital, according to a statement released in Arabic by the Iraqi media rights watchdog.

The journalists making the allegations from Tehran requested anonymity, JFO writes, adding that they told the Iraqi media rights group that the entire Iraqi media delegation in Tehran had experienced “very bad” treatment, and were forbidden from photographing some of the interviews and conferences that the delegation had attended as part of their coverage of the visit.

Iraqi journalists also told the JFO that they had been detained in a room without being informed of the reasons. The journalists were apparently released before they placed the phone call to the JFO.

The correspondents also alleged that Iranian security authorities imposed “intense censorship” on them, impeding their work and the transmission of their news reports to their news agencies Baghdad.

JFO leads its statement with a call to the Iraqi foreign ministry to ensure that all Iraqi journalists accompanying Salih on the official visit are able to return to Iraq safely, demanding that the ministry take the “necessary measures” to safeguard Iraqi journalists accompanying official delegations to other countries, to ensure that they are not harassed by the host country security services, and that they are able to transmit their reports to their media agencies without harassment or censorship.

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