(New York, October
-- The arrest of journalist and internet writer OmidMemarian continues a disturbing crackdown on journalists
and internet writers in Iran, Human Rights Watch said
today. Memarian, a well-known figure in Iran's nongovernmental organization
community, has been detained without charge since his arrest on Sunday, Oct.
The Iranian Students News
Agency, citing family members, reported that agents of Iran's Judiciary working for the
Tehran airport prosecutor arrested
Memarian in his office around on Sunday. The authorities
also searched Memarian's home and confiscated his
personal notes and computer.
"OmidMemarian's arrest is a further sign that Iran's systematic assault on
writers and activists continues unabated," said Joe Stork, Washington director of Human Rights
division. "The Judiciary in particular remains determined to intimidate
critics, isolate them from the public, and make it impossible for their voices
to be heard."
Human Rights Watch called
for the Iranian government to release Memarian
immediately and unconditionally.
Shortly before his arrest, Memarian had tried to attend a conference on Iranian civil
society in New York. He had obtained a U.S. visa, but in Frankfurt, U.S. authorities refused to
allow him to board his flight, saying that he was on a "no-fly" list
but providing no other information. He was arrested a few days after his return
Memarian has written extensively on
youth-related issues in Iran and was a candidate in last
year's election for Tehran's City Council. He
maintains a Web-log dedicated to a range of social, cultural and civil society
issues in Iran. Human Rights Watch said
that Memarian's detention comes on the heels of
numerous arrests of journalists and internet writers over the past month, a
negative trend for online expression.
"These developments do
not bode well for the future of freedom of expression in Iran, especially on the
internet," Stork said. "It is disturbing that neither President Khatami nor Supreme Leader Ali Khamane'i
has stepped in to stop the Judiciary's repressive campaign."
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