Attention Foreign Editors
For immediate release 17 January 2002

Release of tape of Iran prison beatings

The truth must be told about killings of journalists

Invitation to press conference, Monday 21 January 2002, 12 noon

The National Union of Journalists will on Monday 21 January release details of videotapes that throw light on a desperate conspiracy to conceal the truth about the serial killings of journalists and writers in Iran. Five were killed between November 1998 and February 1999.

The Iranian authorities announced that "rogue elements" in the security services had carried out the killings, and some Ministry of Information employees were tried in secret for the murders. The trial was condemned as a sham by the victims' families, their lawyer (who was arrested on the eve of the trial) and human rights and journalists' organisations internationally.

Now copies of videotapes have come into the NUJ's possession that appear to show these "rogue elements" being beaten and mistreated, and then confessing to fantastic "crimes" including working for foreign intelligence agencies, blasphemy, adultery etc.

Parts of the tape will be shown, and transcripts of the most important sections made available, at Monday's press conference. It will be on Monday 21 January at 12 midday, at the NUJ, 308 Grays Inn Road, London WC1 - near Kings Cross station - and will be addressed by John Foster (General Secretary, NUJ) and Omid Behrouzi (executive member, campaign group The International Tribunal on Crimes against Humanity in Iran).

John Foster said: "The tapes constitute evidence of a conspiracy to concentrate attention away from senior figures in the Islamic regime.

"We are asking the UK government, which is in closer diplomatic contact with Iran than it has been for many years, to demand assurances on the issue of press freedom. There must be an independent international inquiry into these killings. The farcical trial that followed - and on top of that, newspaper closures, evidence of death squads being sanctioned at the highest level, and public statements by senior clerics justifying political murders - do not bode well for democracy or a free press in Iran."

Notes to editors:

  • The National Union of Journalists is the one of the world's largest trade unions for journalists, with 28,000 members in the UK, Ireland and western Europe.
  • The campaign group The International Tribunal on Crimes against Humanity in Iran was set up in 1995 following the conviction of Iranian state officials of murdering opposition activists in Berlin. It is preparing documentation on the regime's human rights abuses in the hope of presenting them to an international tribunal.
  • The victims of the serial killings in November and December 1998 included Mohammad Mokhtari (journalist and writer), Majid Sharif (translator and journalist), Mohammad Pouyandeh (journalist and writer), Dariush Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari (political activists and journalists).

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