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Mehdi Khazali
Iranian blogger Mehdi Khazali has been sentenced to 13 years and 10 months in prison and 10 years in exile.

In his blog, Khazali has criticized Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Iran's state policies.

Khazali’s lawyer told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that he will appeal against the sentence.

Khazali was arrested about a month ago and is currently on a hunger strike. The outspoken blogger and ophthalmologist has been detained a number of times in the past two years.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have arrested several people over alleged links to the BBC's Persian service, Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency reported on February 6.

Quoting an unnamed “informed source,” Mehr said the detainees produced content and reported to the BBC. It is not clear how many people have been arrested.

In London, the BBC said in a statement it has "no BBC Persian staff members or stringers working inside Iran."

The BBC said the report "should be of deep concern to all those who believe in a free and independent media.”

In October, Iran released two filmmakers who were jailed on similar charges. Last week, the BBC accused Iran of pressuring the staff members of its Persian service by targeting their relatives in Iran.
A petrochemical plant in Khuzestan Province
The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Iranian authorities have detained more than 65 Arab residents of Iran as part of alleged "security sweeps" in Iran's Arab-majority Khuzestan Province since late 2011.

In a statement, HRW calls on Iranian authorities to investigate the reported deaths of two of the detainees in Intelligence Ministry facilities.

Joe Stork, Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch, called on Iranian authorities to immediately explain the reasons for the arrests, give detainees access to family members and lawyers, and bring all detainees promptly before a judge.

Human Rights Watch says members of the large Arab population of oil-rich Khuzestan have long complained about the lack of socioeconomic development in the region.

They allege that Tehran has systematically discriminated against them.

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About This Blog

"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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