Iran sentences journalist to two years in jail

Masoud Kazemi was also banned from “media activities” for two years. (Screengrab)
Updated 02 June 2019

Iran sentences journalist to two years in jail

TEHRAN: Iran’s judiciary on Sunday sentenced a journalist to two years in jail for “spreading misinformation” and “insulting” the country’s supreme leader and authorities, his lawyer told state media.
Masoud Kazemi was also banned from “media activities” for two years, the lawyer Ali Mojtahedzadeh said, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
The report did not specify the cause of the charges against Kazemi.
State-run Iran newspaper reported on May 23 that he had been arrested the day before.
The journalist was a reporter for the reformist daily Shargh and also the editor-in-chief of Seda-ye Parsi monthly magazine, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Before the trial, the court set bail at 10 billion rials (about $74,000 at the current open market rate) in the case over charges of “conspiring against national security,” the lawyer said.
“Fortunately this charge was dropped during the trial... (and) considering the current charges in the indictment we hope the bail is reduced and he can be freed,” Mojtahedzadeh added.
Another journalist, Pouyan Khoshhal, was arrested in October over “insults” against Imam Hussein, one of the most revered religious figures in the Shiite Islamic republic.
And in August journalist Mir Mohammad Mir-Esmaili was sentenced to 10 years in prison over insulting Imam Reza.


UN: Top Iraqi Shiite cleric backs reforms to resolve unrest

Updated 20 min 57 sec ago

UN: Top Iraqi Shiite cleric backs reforms to resolve unrest

  • At least 12 protesters were wounded in fresh confrontations with security forces in and around Khilani Square
  • Sistani has said security forces had a responsibility to show restraint with peaceful protesters

BAGHDAD: The United Nations top envoy to Iraq, seeking support for a roadmap to resolve massive anti-government protests, said Monday that the country’s most powerful Shiite religious leader backs serious reforms but is concerned politicians will not carry them out.
At least 12 protesters were also wounded in fresh confrontations with security forces in and around Khilani Square, in Baghdad. Most were hit directly with tear gas canisters, according to security and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Four others were killed over night in clashes in a southern city.

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Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN Special Representative to Iraq, met with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in the Shiite holy city of Najaf to discuss the series of reforms put forward by the UN a day earlier.
“The marjaiyah made it clear that it supports the conduct of serious reforms in a reasonable period of time,” she said, using the Arabic name for Al-Sistani’s authority. “Within that context, it welcomes the proposals of the United Nations, including the proposal for one consolidated electoral framework.”
“The marjaiyah also expresses its concerns that the political forces are not serious enough to carry out these reforms,” she added.
Hennis-Plasschaert said Sistani, who did not issue a separate statement, insisted there should be “zero” use of violence against peaceful protesters and that perpetrators “should be held to account without delay.”
In recent sermons, Sistani has said security forces had a responsibility to show restraint with peaceful protesters.
On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq laid out a series of short- and long-term measures aimed at tackling protester demands, including electoral reform and anti-corruption initiatives.
More immediate measures included the release of peaceful demonstrators detained since early October, an investigation into cases of abduction and punishing those found guilty of using excessive force against protesters.

 


Hennis-Plasschaert said the UN would monitor the government’s progress to ensure measures were being “done promptly, swiftly and decisively because this country needs to move forward.”
Qais Al-Khazali, a powerful Iran-backed militia leader, said US support for early elections, “revealed the extent of US intervention in Iraq affairs,” in a statement posted on social media.
The White House issued a statement Sunday expressing backing for previous calls by Iraqi President Barham Saleh to reform the electoral system and hold early elections.
Khazali, head of the Asaib Al-Haq group, said the statement showed the idea of early elections was “primarily a US project intended to be revived even though the religious authority previously rejected it.”
Saleh said in late October that early elections would be held following the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who in turn said his stepping down was contingent on political parties finding a suitable alternative for the premiership.
The violence in Baghdad came after renewed clashes between demonstrators and security forces overnight in the southern city of Nasiriyah, killing four protesters and some 130 wounded, a rights group said.
The casualties in Nasiriyah occurred during confrontations outside the education directorate as security forces tear-gassed protesters trying to block employees from reaching the building in the city center.
The semi-official Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, which reported the toll, called the violence “regrettable” and added that some of the wounded are in serious conditions.
The group also said at least 34 demonstrators were arbitrarily arrested from neighborhoods in Nasiriyah.
At least 320 protesters have been killed by security forces since the protests and unrest over living conditions began last month.
The demonstrators complain of widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, including regular power cuts, despite Iraq’s vast oil reserves.