Iran releases 4 journalists, sentences 2 others to lashing

World News -

Several incidents of cracking down on the press have called into question President Hassan Rouhani's pledge to ease restrictions on the media.

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Blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari was released Aug. 23 after 4 years in jail, according to Reporters Without Borders. He was imprisoned on charges of anti-government propaganda and insulting the republic's leaders. Saba Azarpeyk, a journalist, was released on a $250,000 bail pending trial after spending more than 80 days in isolation.

In August photojournalists Khalil Emami and Abass Alipour were sentenced to 25 and 50 lashes respectively after writing articles in the online newspaper Sedayeqazvin that criticized a book of photos published by the city of Qazvin. Several privately-owned religious TV stations that supported the a dissident cleric Ayatollah Sadegh Shirazi were also shut down in August.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the UAE's The National, and two unnamed American photojournalists were detained in Iran, the Post said July 24.

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Two unnamed female American journalists were released provisionally on Aug. 20, according to Reporters Without Borders. RWB said the Post confirmed the release of one of the women. The families have requested they remain unnamed.

Culture journalist Marzieh Rasouli reported to prison on July 8 to serve a two-year sentence and receive 50 lashes. The government convicted her of spreading anti-government propaganda, she said. Reporters Without Borders said she and at least two other Iranian journalists were accused of collaborating with the BBC.

The reformist Aseman, or Sky, newspaper was closed and its manager jailed, according to a report on Feb. 20. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said the decision was because it was "spreading lies and insulting the holy precepts of Islam" over an article that questioned the precept of eye for an eye.

"You promised to do your best to reopen the journalists association … while in the past few months some efforts were made by your ministers in this regard, the exact time of reopening is not clear for us yet." Iranian journalists' petition

Some 772 Iranian journalists signed a petition to President Rouhani, saying they were "hopeful" he would reopen a press association closed in 2009 by his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian newspaper Etemad first reported about the petition on Jan. 27.

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After being elected to the presidency in 2013, Rouhani promised reforms including improvements to social freedoms. Some are worried however, that his push to make a deal on the country's nuclear program cost him political capital at home to push through reforms. Copyright 2014 Reuters

After being elected to the presidency in 2013, Rouhani promised reforms including improvements to social freedoms. Some are worried however, that his push to make a deal on the country's nuclear program cost him political capital at home to push through reforms.

Seven staff members of the Iranian tech news website <a href="http://narenji.ir/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Narenji.ir</a> were arrested on Dec. 3. It is believed they are part of the 16 people rounded up and accused of acting against national security and collaborating with foreign networks. Source: narenji.ir

Seven staff members of the Iranian tech news website Narenji.ir were arrested on Dec. 3. It is believed they are part of the 16 people rounded up and accused of acting against national security and collaborating with foreign networks.

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Evin Prison, Tehran, Iran

A week after taking him into custody, Iranian authorities called the mother of activist blogger Sattar Beheshti and asked her to come pick up her son's body. His exact cause of death is unclear, but according to the local media, Beheshti died while being interrogated.

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