End illegal imprisonment and heavy bails for journalists
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomes Aghaee’s release and demands the release, and an end to the cases of other journalists who remain in detention for fabricated reasons and without due judicial process, or who have received very heavy bail orders disproportionate to the charges made against them. The Campaign believes that repeated arrests of journalists without specific charges and without admissible evidence are made only to intimidate the press and to keep journalists from continuing their daily activities.
While several journalists such as Saeed Laylaz and Bahman Ahmadi Amouee were temporarily released on heavy bails just before the Iranian New Year (March 20, 2010), presently more than 40 journalists remain in prison. Most of these journalists are subjected to intense interrogation sessions. Ahmad Zeidabadi, Massoud Bastani, Emaddedin Baghi, Badressadat Mofidi, Isa Saharkhiz, Mahdieh Golroo, Hengameh Shahidid, Shiva Nazar Ahari, Kouhyar Goudarzi, Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, Mohammad Nourizad, and Mohammad Davari are some of these imprisoned journalists who were arrested during the post-elections protests.
Sassan Aghaee’s 128-day detention was punishment in excess of what the Islamic Penal Code stipulates. Temporary detention must not exceed the minimum punishment for a crime. According to Article 500 of Islamic Penal Code, the punishment for propagation against the regime is three months to one year. Sassan Aghaee spent more than four months in detention.
Despite the $50,000 bail orders issued by Head of Branch 26 of Revolutionary Courts, and Sassan Aghaee’s family’s immediate posting of the bail, and though his release orders were dispatched to Evin prison, prison authorities refrained from releasing him for the New Year’s holidays.
Aghaee, 28, who is a blogger, journalist, and political activist, wrote in Farhikhtegan, Etemad, Tose’eh, Mardomsalari, and the banned Etemad-e Melli newspapers. Prior to his arrest he had been threatened and summoned by security forces several times, and he was finally arrested on Sunday, November 22, 2009, at his home where security forces entered to search and confiscate his personal effects and computer, taking him with them.