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Nazanin Khosravani was arrested in November
The mother of an Iranian journalist held in Tehran's Evin prison has described as a "big misunderstanding" the charge leveled against her daughter of acting against national security, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced earlier this week that Nazanin Khosravani will be tried on a charge of acting against national security.

It was the first time since Khosravani's November 2 arrest that authorities had made public the charges against her.

Khosravani's mother, Azam Afsharian, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda on December 9 that her daughter has not worked for any journalistic organization for the past year and the charges are without foundation.

"This is all a big misunderstanding and I shall hold the chief prosecutor accountable if the court does not drop the charges against her," Afsharian said.

Afsharian says Khosravani has called her only once since her arrest and talked for only one minute. Khosravani said then she was being held in solitary confinement in Branch 209 of Evin prison.

Afsharian said all her subsequent attempts to contact her daughter have failed.

"I consulted the authorities almost every day; writing interminable applications to the prosecutor, but I was not granted a single visit or even a telephone conversation with my daughter," she said.

Afsharian said she has received no new information about her daughter's condition for the past 40 days, and is now extremely worried. She said when she last inquired at the prosecutor's office, one of his assistants taunted her, saying "Let's just hope your daughter is still alive."

Afsharian said Dolatabadi asked her not to agree to any interview with the media if she wants to help her daughter. But she said, "I believe it is my right to do so as I have not received a proper answer from the authorities and this is the only way left for me to convey my message to them."
A gay rights group in Moldova says a young homosexual man committed suicide this week after being intimidated and humiliated by police officers in Chisinau, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

But police have denied the claim of intimidation, saying officers gave the man and his companion "a lecture" after they were "caught in the act" in a public toilet.

The organization Genderdoc-M said the 26- year-old man, whose name it did not disclose, and his companion were briefly detained by two policemen on December 6 in a Chisinau park that is a popular meeting place for gay men.

Genderdoc-M representative Angela Frolov told RFE/RL that the incident was witnessed by a Genderdoc-M activist who said one of the policemen was carrying an automatic rifle.

The witness said the two officers used extremely rude and homophobic language and threatened to take the two young men to the police station and to disclose their sexual orientation to their families and employers.

Genderdoc-M said its activist persuaded the police officers to let the two men go.

But Frolov said that several hours after the incident, the man called his mother from a pay phone, told her that he was gay, and then hanged himself in his aunt's house where he was living.

In a statement, police denied the claim of intimidation.

It alleged that the two men were "caught in the act" in the park's public toilet after police followed up on a complaint from two women who had been told by their children there were gay men there.

"The policemen simply gave them a lecture," the statement said.

Genderdoc-M issued its statement to coincide with International Human Rights Day and draw attention to what it says are frequent cases of police harassment and blackmail of gays.

Frolov said the few unofficial "cruising areas" for gays in Chisinau are deliberately targeted by policemen who demand bribes from gay people in exchange for not telling their families, employers, or teachers about their sexual orientation.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Moldova in the 1990s but is still largely taboo in a conservative, mainly Orthodox Christian society.

Genderdoc-M has led a so-far unsuccessful bid to hold a gay rights march in Chisinau.

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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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