Three foreign journalists reported detained in Iran

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 7, 2009

TEHRAN -- Iranian officials arrested a Japanese and two Canadian reporters during anti-government demonstrations this week and charged them with "unauthorized reporting," the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported Friday.

It did not identify the reporters or their news organizations.

The three reporters join two others whose agencies said they were arrested during Wednesday's protests on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy siege here. Agence France-Presse said its local reporter Farhad Pouladi was detained, and the International Federation of Journalists said a Danish journalist, Niels Krogsgaard, was arrested in connection with the demonstration.

"The claim about the arrest of the AFP journalist is under investigation," the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi as saying. Iranian media gave no further details on the other arrested foreigners. All are still thought to be in custody.

On Wednesday, authorities temporarily blocked all access to e-mail programs such as Gmail and Yahoo during the demonstrations to prevent people from sending images to foreign media organizations. Still, many managed to upload cellphone clips to video sites, which were widely broadcast by foreign-based Farsi-language satellite channels.

Anti-government demonstrators used a state-backed rally commemorating the 1979 embassy takeover to stage their own protest against the government, which they call illegitimate. The confrontation led to clashes between security forces and protesters in the center of the capital. Foreign journalists were ordered to report only from the official demonstration.

Iranian officials have often accused Western media of organizing and promoting protests. Foreign journalists are largely barred from the country since several demonstrations and riots following Iran's disputed June presidential election.

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