Union offers support and assistance to Iranian Journalists
8 February 2013
Journalists trade unions and the International Federation (IFJ) offer support and assistance to Iranian journalists in country and to the diaspora of exiles.
The Iranian elections are in June 2013 and with the Presidential elections only a few months away - we fear the crackdown on press freedoms will intensify.
At the end of January, there were 16 Iranian journalists working for news agencies, news websites and newspapers arrested.
In countries where journalists are persecuted and imprisoned the actions of the authorities sends a clear message attempting to intimidate the media.
It is not clear at this stage what charges the journalists will face.
The Iranian intelligence Ministry published a statement on Wednesday 30 January 2013 and said: "The arrested journalists have links with the BBC."
The BBC has denied all the accusations and in a statement said: “We don’t have any working relationship with the arrested journalists in Iran.”
Leaders of the IFJ and its member unions in the region have met in Ankara in Turkey this week to co-ordinate support, distribute assistance funds and engage the UN's refugee agency (UNCHR).
The Minister of Culture and Islamic guidance reportedly said: "The charges against the journalists detained in Tehran are not 'journalistic.'"
Other accusations appear to be linked to journalists communicating with other Iranian journalists in exile and the authorities have labelled this as "contact with foreign media outlets."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:
"It is deeply disturbing when journalists are rounded up and hounded from work. We have a principled alliance against threats and intimidation when we are defending journalism in the public interest. We stand in solidarity at this difficult time and join with them in the battle to defend press freedom."
Jim Boumelha, NUJ NEC member and President of the International Federation of Journalists said:
"The NUJ and IFJ will do all we can to assist our Iranian colleagues. The arrests are the latest attempts to harass and intimidate journalists. It is a clear attack on the right to report and must be challenged."