Iran: Jailed Journalist Held in Solitary Confinement Without Charge!
Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Solidarity Network (WLUML) are deeply concerned about the situation of Iranian journalist Fariba Pajooh, who has been detained since her arrest without charge on July 10, 2013 (first day of Ramadan). When her family visited the Evin Prison Court, Islamic Republic of Iran authorities informed them that Ms. Pajooh’s case file had been transferred to Branch 2 of the Shahid Moghaddas Prosecutor’s Office of the same prison. IRI authorities have reportedly instructed the family to not follow up on her case as they have reportedly guaranteed her imminent release.
In two phone calls made from Evin Prison, Fariba told her mother, Farideh Pajooh that IRI authorities have not announced any charge or reason for her arrest and are holding her in a solitary confinement cell in Ward 209. According to Farideh Pajooh, her daughter is currently subject to interrogations.
Fariba was arrested at her home in Tehran, during a raid by four IRI agents-- reportedly three men and one woman-- who claimed they were sent from the Ministry of Intelligence. Farideh Pajooh says the agents had asked her daughter why she had not yet left the country. Her daughter had explained that she was awaiting her passport. The agents had reportedly responded that her passport would be ready soon and that she should go with them for the time being. The agents, who had presented a home inspection warrant from the Prosecutor’s Office, searched the home and confiscated Fariba’s personal belongings, including her laptop. They had reportedly told Fariba’s husband that they would return her in a few hours, however it has been more than two weeks and the family is still awaiting her return.
Farideh Pajooh, who had been relatively silent on the treatment of IRI authorities with her daughter, recently began to speak out to some reporters and human rights groups. In a recent interview she explains that her daughter made great efforts to stay away from sensitive matters in the media. She reveals that authorities had banned Fariba from leaving the country over the Persian New Year holidays (March 2013) and she had left Tehran (her city of residence) during the time of the Presidential election (June 2013) in order to avoid any potential issues with authorities.
Fariba Pajooh was among the scores of activists and journalists detained following the 2009 Presidential election in Iran. She was arrested on August 22, 2009 (first day of Ramadan), and imprisoned until December 2009. According to reports, she spent the first month of her imprisonment in a solitary confinement cell in ward 209 of Evin Prison (this ward is controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence). In prison she was deprived of the right to an attorney and security agents had reportedly subjected her to physical and psychological torture and other forms of pressures and abuses. After her release, she was sentenced to one year in prison by a lower court. The final ruling from Branch 54 of the Appeals Court in Tehran changed her sentence to a five-year *suspended imprisonment term.
Fariba Pajooh has worked with ILNA (Iran Labour News Agency) and reformist publications, including Aftab Yazd and Etemad Melli. One of her main focuses is on women’s issues in Iran. Close sources say she has not worked with any media/publication or engaged in any activities related to journalism (or any form of activism) since her first arrest.
WLUML calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Fariba Pajooh. She, like many other political prisoners in Iran, is being held without charge or access to an attorney. We call on the global community to help remind authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran that they are bound to their international human rights obligations and therefore should end the unlawful detention of Ms. Pajooh. Additionally, we call on IRI authorities to uphold the claims they gave to Ms. Pajooh’s family regarding her imminent release.
*A suspended imprisonment sentence means that the sentence will not be implemented, unless the person is found guilty on another charge. There is usually a time limit associated with the suspension.