Prisoner of Conscience in Iran
After having been tried and acquitted of similar charges on three occasions over the past six years, 2009 Courage in Journalism Award winner Jila Baniyaghoob, the editor of the website "Focus on Iranian Women", was summoned to the notorious Evin Prison on Sunday, September 2, 2012, to serve a one-year prison sentence for "spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the president”. In addition to her imprisonment, she was banned from media and journalistic activities for 30 years.
"The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Jila Baniyaghoob who is a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression, and allow her to resume her profession," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for Middle East and North Africa.
Baniyaghoob, whose husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amou'i, was an editor at the daily business paper Sarmayeh before he was imprisoned, was arrested alongside her husband in 2009, shortly after the controversial presidential victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She was released two months later, but her husband remained in prison where he is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for "gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security", "spreading propaganda against the system", "disrupting public security" and "insulting the president".
As a female reporter in Iran, Baniyaghoob has faced many social and political obstacles. She has been beaten, arrested, imprisoned and interrogated by the Iranian secret police several times. For her reporting on government and social oppression, particularly as it affects women, she has also been fired repeatedly from her jobs. And in April 2011, Iranian authorities charged her for maintaining her blog, Kanoon Zanan Irani - Focus on Iranian Women, "without permission from government authorities".
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Iranian authorities have maintained a revolving-door policy for imprisoning journalists, freeing some detainees on furloughs even as they make new arrests. When CPJ conducted its annual prison census on December 1, 2011, Iran was holding 42 journalists in custody, the most in the world. At a recent visit to Tehran last month, U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon urged the Iranian authorities to release opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, and social activists.
The IWMF joins Amnesty International's call demanding that the Iranian authorities relax restrictions on journalists and release those held solely for their journalism and human rights work.
Sign the Petition to free Jila Baniyaghoob
September 5, 2012