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Middle east

Arrest of AFP journalist reporting for FRANCE 24 'under investigation', Tehran says

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-11-06

AFP journalist Farhad Pouladi was arrested in Tehran Wednesday as he phoned in a report to FRANCE 24 on the rallies marking the 30th anniversary of the 1979 storming of the US embassy in Tehran. Three other reporters were also detained.

Tehran’s prosecutor said on Friday that an investigation was underway into the arrest of AFP reporter and FRANCE 24 contributor Farhad Pouladi as he reported on rallies in the Iranian capital this week, according to official media sources.    

“The claim about the arrest of the AFP journalist is under investigation,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted prosecutor Abbas Jaffari Doulatabadi as saying.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said on Friday that investigations were also being launched into the detention of three other journalists – one Japanese and two Canadian nationals – who were also arrested on Wednesday for reporting without permission on the rallies in Tehran.    

Pouladi was detained by three security personnel on Wednesday morning as he was in the process of phoning in a telephone report to FRANCE 24 on demonstrations marking the 30th anniversary of the storming of the US embassy by militant Iranian students on Nov. 4, 1979.

“Farhad Pouladi was covering the rally when he was stopped and taken away by three security agents, two in uniform and one in plainclothes,” acting Tehran bureau chief Jay Deshmukh said on Thursday.   

Clash of demonstrations

Thousands gathered at a rally to commemorate the anniversary of the embassy siege, which led to US personnel being held for 444 days and the severing of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington.

But those gathered to mark the occasion this year clashed with members of parallel demonstrations – against the disputed June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which sparked weeks of widespread protest in the capital and around the country.   

Foreign media have been barred from covering demonstrations since the June post-election protests.

AFP’s chairman says the news agency has asked the Iranian authorities for Pouladi’s release and "strongly" objects to his arrest.
“We strongly protest his detention and we demand that he be released without delay,” chairman Pierre Louette said on Thursday, adding that the agency was “worried” about Pouladi’s fate.

 “We still don't know exactly where he is being held,” Louette said.

Iranian author and journalist Homayoon Amouzgar said it is impossible to know who arrested Pouladi or where he is being held, given the array of regular police, special units and plainclothes security elements patrolling during Wednesday’s demonstrations.

“The Revolutionary Guards have a number of illegal detention centres,” Amouzgar told FRANCE 24. “Even the official jails have special wings that are under the control of the intelligence services, such as wing 209 [of Tehran’s Evin prison].”

Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, responsible for overseeing members of the foreign press, confirmed with AFP on Thursday that Pouladi’s case was under review and said he could be released sometime over the weekend.   
“His case is being considered,” a ministry official said. “Maybe he will be released on Saturday or Sunday.


Date created : 2009-11-06

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