Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Canadian Journalists for Free _Expression Protest Letter July 19, 2005
Country: Iran

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July 19, 2005

The Right Honourable Paul Martin
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing as a member of Canadian Journalists for Free _Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of _expression around the world.

Today, as imprisoned Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji enters the 39th day of his hunger strike in Tehran, CJFE urges you to call on Iranian authorities for his release.

In 2000, Akbar Ganji was sentenced to six years in prison after writing a series of articles connecting high-level Iranian officials to the murders of several intellectuals in 1998. Prior to his imprisonment, Mr. Ganji was an investigative journalist for the now defunct Sobh-eEmrooz. In 2000, he was also the recipient of the CJFE International Press Freedom Award. He has reportedly been hospitalized due to his failing health and his family is said to have been denied access to him. Released on medical leave in May following an 11-day hunger strike, he resumed his protest when he was returned to Evin prison on June 11.

We believe that Mr. Ganji is a very brave man whose mistreatment by his government is attributable only to its wish to muzzle a critic who has courageously exposed outrageous government abuse in the past. If this abuse of him continues much longer, the Iranian authorities will turn him into a martyr. Releasing him is a better option for the government of Iran as he will likely become a thorn in its side, which, in true democracies, is what good journalists ought to be, and what accountable governments must endure.

According to the Reuters news agency, Akbar Ganji has lost 40 pounds and is suffering from acute asthma that he developed in prison. He has been repeatedly denied medical treatment and his family fears that his sentence will be extended to prevent his release. His on-going persecution has already cost him more than five years of freedom and now it may cost him is life.

CJFE calls on you and the Government of Canada to join with the European Union and the President of the United States in denouncing the treatment of Akbar Ganji by the Iranian government and to demand his unconditional release.

I look forward to receiving your prompt reply.

Yours truly,

Your Name

CJFE Member


Case File Number: PL05-012

The Right Honourable Paul Martin
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Fax: (613) 941-6900


The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Tower A, 10th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Fax: (613) 996-3443

Benoit Girouard
Desk Officer (Iran)
Political & Trade relations
Middle East Division (GMR)
Foreign Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Fax: (613) 944-7975


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