Monday, October 19, 2009

Iran Releases Newsweek's Maziar Bahari on Bail

Maziar Bahari, a journalist with dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship who is Newsweek’s Iran correspondent, was freed on bail on Saturday.

Iran took the action two days after UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon released a damning
report on the human-rights situation in Iran. He had been held without being charged in prison in Iran since June 21.

"We are all relieved to hear that Maziar Bahari has been released on bail and currently at home with his family in Tehran," Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Executive Director Annie Game said. "Hopefully this is a sign that other journalists who continue to languish in jail in Iran will also be released in the near future."

While this long awaited news is extremely welcome - there remain concerns that Bahari's ability to leave the country may be restricted. Bahari's wife, Paola Gourley, is expecting the birth of their first child on October 26, in England. Bahari was freed on payment of 300 million toman ($372,500) of bail after 120 days in Tehran’s Evin prison. He is still awaiting a trial on undetermined charges.

Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities are refusing to provide any information about Hossein Derakhshan, a blogger with dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship who has been held for nearly a year.

“Bahari’s release should not divert attention from the fact that 31 other journalists and bloggers, including Derakhshan, are still detained in Iran,” Reporters sans frontières, a Paris-based international advocacy group for reporters, said. “Canada and the entire international community must redouble efforts to get the Iranian authorities to free all the imprisoned journalists. Ban Ki-Moon’s recent report confirms that the human rights situation has deteriorated considerably.”

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