You may have seen pictures and television coverage of a so-called “revolutionary court” sitting in Iran. This has been widely portrayed as a show trial of opposition politicians and activists involved in the continuing protests against the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Among the many arrested since the beginning of the recent crackdown on political dissent are at least 36 journalists. Take, for example, photographers Majid Saeedi and Satyar Emami, who have reportedly confessed to taking pictures and sending them to “enemy [news] agencies”. These include the notorious Getty Images.
“Majid Saeedi is a well-regarded photojournalist who was simply recording the reality he observed and distributing his photos through a global news agency recognized for its nonpartisan coverage of world events,” said Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon. “We are gravely concerned that Saeedi, Satyar Emami, and the many other journalists in jail could be put on trial merely for doing their jobs.”
Also in detention is filmmaker Maziar Bahari, who has been accused of “promoting a colour revolution”. By a distinctly monochrome regime. Other filmmakers in prison include Jafar Panahi, Mahnaz Mohammadi and Rookhsare Ghaem Ghami. On Thursday last these three covered the commemoration ceremony for Neda Soltan, held at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in Tehran.
There is a perverse irony in the Iranian regime accusing domestic journalists of working for “enemy agencies”, when the state itself is courting the same media bodies through the likes of Press TV: a propaganda initiative masquerading as a legitimate television news channel, complete with has-been western journalists and politicians among its contributors. Press TV adverts are currently emblazoned on buses servicing central London, and it all reeks of hypocrisy.