3 June 2005
We, the undersigned member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), are writing to call for the permanent release from prison of journalist Akbar Ganji.
Our members welcomed the news earlier this week that Ganji had been granted a week-long leave from Evin Prison in Tehran. As you are aware, he was said to be in very poor health. Doctors had recommended that Ganji be hospitalized for back problems and asthma, which worsened because of his prison condition. His lawyer, Nobel peace laureate Shirin Edabi, voiced great concern about his health. We trust that, during his temporary release from prison, Ganji will be given required medical treatment in order to improve his health.
Now that Ganji has been released from Evin Prison, we urge that his freedom from incarceration be made permanent and that he not be returned to prison next week. He has already served more than five years of his prison sentence, much of it in solitary confinement. His health, already weakened by the imprisonment, <>will only worsen and reverse any gains made during this week of freedom.
We believe that Akbar Ganji has been held in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We call for his immediate and unconditional release, by which he will not have to return to Evin Prison next week. This action by your government will underscore the humanitarian concerns for Ganji’s well-being and be seen as a positive development by the international community.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network
Committee to Protect Journalists
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Norwegian PEN Centre
PEN American Center
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters
World Press Freedom Committee