Iranian Internet journalist free, web log banned

June 2003 -

The Iranian Internet journalist Sina Motallebi has been released temporarily. At the end of April he was arrested by the Iranian authorities for the umpteenth time. His 'cultural activities' were said to jeopardise national security. The imprisonment of the prominent reporter led to international protests.

Motallebi defended arrested journalists, among others, on his web log He sought refuge on the web after the reform-minded newspaper for which he worked was banned at the beginning of this year. The Iranian government has banned at least 80 newspapers and magazines during the last three years. Recently 15 thousand so-called 'immoral' web sites have been banned, as well, both pornographic as well as political. This means that the web no longer provides an escape for Iranians with opposing views.

Motallebi is the first journalist in Iran that has been arrested for texts on the Internet. According to the interest group Reporters without Borders there are 49 'cyber-dissidents' who are currently imprisoned world-wide. Iranian web loggers are leading a web campaign from San Diego to get Motallebi released from prison.