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The Iranian Writers Association has designated today as a Day Against Censorship.

All forms of media in Iran -- including print, television, radio, and the Internet, as well as film and gallery exhibitions -- are subject to censorship by the Iranian government.

Fearing possible reprisals, most Iranian journalists opt for self-censorship.

To mark the Day Against Censorship, RFE/RL's Radio Farda interviewed writers, artists, and intellectuals in Iran to find out how censorship has affected their lives.

Kurosh Danishyar, a student from Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, told RFE/RL that authorities have even closed student publications that were critical of government policies.

Iranian-born filmmaker Nahid Persson, the director of documentaries such as "Prostitution Behind the Veil" and "Four Wives -- One Man," says she was briefly imprisoned for what she calls "trying to show the plights and problems Iranians face in their everyday lives."

Iranian authorities accused Persson of having shamed her native country.

The filmmaker said she had to leave Iran because authorities do not tolerate criticism.
A journalist wanted by the Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB) has been hospitalized in Almaty after he had agreed to leave the U.S. Embassy office earlier.

Ramazan Esergepov, the owner and editor in chief of the "Alma-Ata Info" weekly, spent the night in the office and then asked for political asylum in the United States. He had managed to escape KNB officers on December 1 and hid himself in the U.S. Embassy's office after KNB officers had tried to take him to the city of Taraz by force to question him regarding an article printed in his newspaper two weeks ago.

Esergepov told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that he decided to leave the premises of the U.S. Almaty office after embassy officials held talks with the Kazakh Foreign Ministry and were given guarantees that Esergepov would be treated in accordance with Kazakh law.

Later, his wife Raushan said that her husband had been hospitalized with what she called a "pre-heart-attack" condition. She declined to say where he was being treated, though she added that the KNB knows where he is.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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