Tehran, 14 Oct. (IPS) Iranian Islamic Justice on Sunday arrested one of the most prominent Iranian human rights campaigner and former influential journalist and investigative author on charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic and to the benefit of foreigners”.
Mr. Emaddedin Baqi, who heads the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Prisoners' Rights (ICDPR), was arrested as his wife was trying to collect a 500 million Rials (53.500 US Dollars) bail that a judge later refused to accept, on the ground that he still had a one-year jail term to serve from a previous conviction.
On order from the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenehi, more thant 200 newspapers and publications have been closed.
Mr. Saleh Nikbakht, Mr. Baqi’s lawyer explained to reporters that the reason the judge sent his client to prison was because in 2003, Mr. Baqi had been sentenced to a one year prison term for publishing “The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran”,, adding that his client is charged with “spreading propaganda against the regime and publishing secret government documents".
According to the charges, Mr. Baqi, one of the investigative journalists and researchers who revealed the high officials at the Iranian Intelligence Ministry who assassinated several prominent Iranian politicians and intellectual in 1989 had obtained secret information from prisoners detained in security cells and then disseminated this information during seminars organized by his group, Mr. Nikbakht added.
A former Editor of several reformist newspapers, all shut down on orders from the regime’s Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, Mr. Baqi created the ICDPR four years ago and started public activities one year latter, after the Interior Ministry delivered legal authorization to the NGO.
In the past four years, Mr. Baqi had been summoned to the Islamic Revolution courts and tried for charges that, besides the routine “package” of accusations against dissidents, include the most typical of the Islamic Republic, “Gathering in association aimed at committing crimes against the security of the nation!” in the one hand and “participation in a course organized in the United Arab Emirates aimed at learning methods for toppling the Islamic Republic regime”.
Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power, public hangings are on the increase in Islamic Republic
On that charge, Mr. Baqi’s wife, Mrs. Fatemeh Kamali Ahmad Sara’i and his daughter, Maryam, had also been sentenced to three years reduced terms.
“We are a legal NGO, our activities are legal under the laws and we have committed no undertaking against the regime”, Mr. Baqi said, asking the prosecutor to present to the public the incriminating documents, particularly those claimed to be government secrets he is accused of having passed to the enemies, the place and the date of the meetings where the alleged “crimes” have taken place against the security of the regime or insulting the leaders.
Over the last months, Mr. Baqi, awarded in 2005 by France for his activities in the defense of prisoners and human rights, had publicly protested against a new wave of public hangings by the authorities, on the ground of fighting crimes, safeguarding public order and securing the society.
In September, he wrote an open letter to the heads of reformist parties – including former president Mohammad Khatami and former Speaker of the Majles Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi, who leads the pro-reform National Confidence Party, complaining of their silence over the increased hangings.
Mr. Baqi in one of the journalists who revealed the savage assassination of several prominent Iranian politicians and intellectual in 1989 by the regime.
Since Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President, the wave of public hanging and crackdown on the women, young boys and girls, students, journalists, intellectuals and scholars not in line with his aggressive domestic and foreign policies is on the increase and dissidents routinely accused of cooperating with the regime's so-called "enemies"..
With at least 207 executions carried out this year, the Islamic Republic is currently reported to be the second most prolific applier of the death penalty worldwide after China and the Paris-based press watchdog, Reporters Sans Frontiers, has declared the Iranian leader and President among the world’s “most dangerous predators of press freedom”.
For Mr. Nikbakhat and many other analysts, one of the reasons the authorities are so angry with Mr. Baqi is his interviews with foreign-based Iranian radio and television stations in the one hand and the annual report his organization publishes regarding the situation of Iranian prisons and the treatment of prisoners on the other hand. BAQI ARRESTED 141007