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Britain has added its condemnation to the unprecedented lashing sentence against Iranian cartoonist Mahmud Shokraye.

He was sentenced to 25 lashes earlier this week over his depiction of conservative lawmaker Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani as a soccer player.

The cartoon in question
The cartoon in question
A British Foreign Office statement said, "Charges should never have been brought at all for this innocuous act, but it is sadly not surprising given the government has consistently shown such flagrant disregard for its citizens' rights and freedoms."

Ashtiani is among politicians being criticized for interfering in sports.

In an earlier joint statement, a dozen Iran-based websites condemned Shokraye's sentence and warned that it sets a dangerous precedent.

The statement noted that drawing cartoons of politicians, including of Iranian presidents and other top officials, is common in Iran.

With reporting by Baztab
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović
The Representative on Freedom of the Media from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has expressed concern over the "indiscriminate detention" of journalists reporting on street protests in Moscow and recent cyber attacks on Russian media websites.

Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement that "What happened in recent days must be thoroughly investigated and sanctions taken against those law enforcement officers who violated the rights of journalists."

Reports say that riot police harassed and detained dozens of reporters who were covering street gatherings in Moscow from 6 May to 9 May.

On 6 May, the websites of the "Kommersant" newspaper, "Bolshoi Gorod" magazine, the Ekho Moskvy radio station, the Dozhd TV station, and that of the slon.ru online news service were made temporarily unavailable just as some of them were planning to broadcast live from the scene of the protests.

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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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