July 15, 2010
United Nations Secretary General
United Nations Plaza, SA-1B15
New York, NY 10017
We are writing on behalf of the International Women’s Media Foundation to express our alarm concerning the sentences against Iranian journalists Jila Baniyaghoob and Bahman Ahmadi Amoyee.
Baniyaghoob, who won an IWMF Courage in Journalism Award in 2009, was sentenced to one year in jail and banned from practicing journalism for 30 years by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She was initially arrested in June 2009 following post-election protests in Iran. She was charged with propaganda against the Islamic regime because of her reports on the election and the protests that followed. Her lawyer, Farideh Gheyrat, placed an appeal with the Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch 26 on June 27. Gheyrat argues that Baniyaghoob has twice been found innocent of charges and should not be placed in jeopardy again. She further points out that as a journalist Baniyaghoob has reported fairly on people and events both in Iran and in other parts of the world and has not committed offenses against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Amoyee, Baniyaghoob’s husband, was also arrested in June 2009. Charges against him include "propaganda against the system" and "insulting the president." The Iranian news website Jaras said that in his reporting, Amoyee: "never compromised his professional principles." A former editor at the business daily newspaper Sarmayeh, Amoyee was released from prison in March. However, he was summoned by the prosecutor's office on May 30 to Evin Prison, where he continues serving an unjust five-year sentence as a political prisoner.
We urge you to leverage your position in the UN to help assure that Baniyaghoob and Amoyee are released immediately and unconditionally so that they can continue their work as journalists. We are concerned that their unfair sentences signal more restrictions on free expression and press freedom in Iran. All viewpoints should be allowed in the media without force or coercion, and authorities should protect journalists in the course of their work.
As a network of thousands of women and men in the media around the world who are supporters of a worldwide free press, we respectfully ask you to use your power in this situation, ensuring that Baniyaghoob and Amoyee neither remain in prison nor are banned from writing. By doing so, you will take a step toward establishing a free and independent press in Iran.
Thank you for your attention.
Campbell Brown, co-chair
Barbara Cochran, co-chair
CC: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9220
President, Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Mr. Ali Reza Avaei
Karimkhan Zand Avenue
Sana’i Avenue, Corner of Alley 17, No 152
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani
Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary,
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Islamic Republic of Iran