Source Pravda.Ru

Arrest of four Iranian news agency journalists deplored

Reporters Without Borders said today it was extremely concerned about the arrest of Mostafa Darban, head of the Baghdad bureau of the Iranian news agency IRNA, and three of his journalists by Iraqi police late on 9 August. All four are being held at the interior ministry.

"We deplore this arrest and we are especially concerned because the police have not given any explanation and remained vague about the four journalists' situation" the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "We ask interior minister Falah al-Naqib to say why they are being detained and we call for their immediate release."

Darban and agency staffers Mohammad Khafaji, Mohsen Madani and Abu Ali were picked up by uniformed police at IRNA office in Baghdad and their equipment confiscated. The news agency's head office in Teheran had first feared they may have been kidnapped.

Other Iranian journalists have been similarly arrested in Iraq. Two journalists from the state-owned TV station IRIB, Said Aboutaleb and Soheil Karimi, were arrested on 1st July last year by US troops and held for four months for allegedly undermining the security of Iraq. US officials did not tell the Iranian consul in Baghdad they had been arrested until two weeks later.