New York, August 14, 2009--In a letter addressed to the head of the Iranian judiciary, four defense lawyers protested that they were not allowed to attend the latest hearing, on August 8, in a mass trial in which more than 100 defendants, including journalists, stand accused of anti-state activities.
On Tuesday, Mina Jafari, Abdolssamad Khoramshahi, Nassrin Sutodeh, and Muhammad Mustafai sent a letter to the chief of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, protesting that they had been denied access into the mass hearing where their clients, some of whom are journalists, are being tried, Radio Zamaneh and the Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency reported. In their letter, the four lawyers said they were denied entry because their clients were already being represented by a public defender. They also voiced disapproval that one of the lawyers was threatened with arrest after trying to gain entrance to the proceedings.
The lack of access is
part of a larger concern over how the detainees are being treated. Police chief Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam admitted that detainees had been
tortured while in custody. Last weekend, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered
the Kahrizak prison southern
"It is shameful that the Iranian authorities continue to flout Iranian law by denying defendants the right to choose their own legal representatives," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "This is especially troublesome since credible reports of prisoner abuse and other violations of due process continue to surface."
In a separate development, CPJ has learned that freelance journalist Reza Rafie Forushan, who is one of the defendants in the mass hearings, has been in custody since June 26, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Forushan allegedly "gave a history of his cooperation with Time magazine to the court and added that his mission was to attend presidential press conferences with the aim of holding biased interviews with the officials of the Islamic Republic," IRNA reported.
News Director Howard Chua-Eoan in
Since post-election unrest erupted,
"The Iranian authorities seem to be going to great length to construct a foreign media conspiracy that simply doesn't exist," said Abdel Dayem.
With the confirmation of Forushan's arrest, CPJ research