Iranian Blogger Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

Iranian blogger and journalist Arash Sigarchi was sentenced to prison yesterday on a day other bloggers had set aside to call for his freedom and that of fellow jailed blogger Mojtaba Saminjad.

(New York, February 24, 2005 – Reuters)–The Iranian government sentenced the prominent blogger Arash Cigarchi to 14 years in prison for expressing his opinions on the Internet and in the international press, marking a new low for freedom of expression in Iran, Human Rights Watch said today. “The Iranian government is sending a message to its critics: keep silent or face years in prison,” said Widney Brown, deputy program director of Human Rights Watch.

In the northern province of Gilan, the revolutionary court issued the sentence on February 2. However, the court made its ruling public only on February 22. Charges brought against Cigarchi include espionage, “aiding and abating hostile governments and opposition groups,” endangering national security and insulting Iran’s leaders. The court based its decision on a report by the intelligence ministry agents who arrested Cigarchi on January 17.More information is available from the Committee to Protect Bloggers.

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