[Updated June 30]
On Sunday, June 21, Maziar Bahari, a Canadian-Iranian journalist and filmmaker working in Tehran, was taken into custody by men believed to be Iranian security officials. He was arrested at 7:00 a.m. at the apartment he shares with his mother. A laptop and several videotapes were seized from the apartment.
On June 30, Fars News agency posted an 11-page “confession”
said, according to a translation on The
Washington Post‘s web site: “The activities of Western journalists in news
gathering and spying and gathering intelligence are undeniable.” The document
also claims Bahari said: “I, too, as a journalist and a member of this great
Western capitalism machine, either blindly or on purpose, participated in
projecting doubts and promoting a color revolution.”
Newsweek magazine, for which Bahari has worked as a correspondent since 1998, has called for his immediate release.
So has Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, in a letter to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa calling on the government of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists and bloggers who have been detained
simply because they are exercising their right to free expression.
The Canadian government has done the same. Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement on June 22, calling on the Iranian government to “release all political prisoners and journalists – including Canadians – who have been unjustly detained.”
In a statement issued June 30, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Iran to release all jailed journalists and stop vilifying the foreign press.
Bahari is originally from Iran, but was educated at Concordia University in Montreal and maintains a home in Toronto. He is a Canadian citizen.
His detention is only one incident among many in the unrest following the recent Iranian election. Among those affecting the media, the CBC reports, a BBC correspondent has been expelled and the Dubai-based network Al-Arabiya has had its rights in the country suspended. Some reports say as many as 34 journalists and bloggers may have been detained.
On June 23 the entire 25-person staff of Kalemeh Sabz, a newspaper owned by opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, were arrested. Most have since been released. That information is included in the regular updates that Reporters Without Borders has posted on its web site on the arrest and in some cases release of journalists in Iran.
The detention and mistreatment of journalists in Iran
predates the recent election. Blogger Hossein Derakhshan, also a Canadian, has
been detained without charge since November 2008. Zahra Kazemi, a
Canadian-Iranian photojournalist, died in Iran’s Evin Prison in 2003 after
being arrested in connection with pictures she took during a student protest.
An article by Bahari published in the New Statesman in November 2007 recounts his experiences as a journalist working in Iran.