Monday, 8 December 2008

AKI: Iran: Journalist sentenced to five years in jail

Tehran, 13 Nov. (AKI) - An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian journalist of Arab ethnicity to five years in prison for allegedly inciting a 'revolt' among Arabs in southern Iran.

Yousef Azizi-Banitaraf was arrested three years ago and charged by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran with 'inciting revolt' among the Arab population in the south of Iran. In April 2005, a group of people protested in oil-rich Khuzestan over an alleged letter that was reportedly attributed to Iran's presidential desk, saying that urgent action was needed to change the ethnic demographics of the province.

Banitaraf was arrested and released a few weeks later after he criticised the repression of protesters in the south of the country at a meeting at a Tehran human rights centre.

"The objective of this sentence is to silence the critical voices, and reduce freedom of expression to a minimum," said Banitaraf's lawyer, Saleh NikbathBanitaraf, 58, has published more than 25 works on various subjects, including tribal affairs, nomadic tribes and folk storytelling among the people of Khuzestan.

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