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Watchdog Warns Of 'Judicial Harassment' Of Iranian Journalists

September 5, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern at what it calls "increasing judicial harassment" of Iranian journalists.

An statement posted to the watchdog group's website singles out the case of Issa Sahakhiz, the editor-in-chief of the "Aftab" and "Akhbar Egtesadi" newspapers, who was sentenced on August 28 to four years in jail and a five-year professional ban.

The group also says another journalist -- Saghi Baghernia of the "Asia" business daily -- was sentenced in August to six months in jail for publishing a picture of an exiled opposition leader three years ago.

Also in August, Tehran prosecutors summoned Emadoldin Baghi of the banned "Jumhuriyat" daily for questioning without allowing a lawyer to attend the meeting.

RSF claims those recent cases "show how hard it is to work as a journalist in Iran."

The group also calls on Iranian authorities to release journalist Mehrdad Qassemfar and cartoonist Mana Neyestani, who have been in jail for several months.

Neyestani is the author of the cockroach cartoon that triggered violent protests in Iran's West and East Azerbaijan provinces in May. Qassemfar is the editor-in-chief of the state newspaper that published the cartoon.