Reporters Without Borders today deplored the arrest of Iranian journalist Fershteh Ghazi, of the daily Etemad ("Confidence"), for working with reformist Internet news websites and expressed alarm at reports that the intelligence services were preparing to accuse her and five other imprisoned journalists of "adultery" in a bid to hide the political nature of their detention.
"Such accusations, about private matters, would serve to cover up a flagrant violation of free expression and would be a disgusting legal spectacle," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
Ghazi was picked up on 28 October by the Teheran morality police, Edareh Amaken, when she answered a summons to appear before the 9th chamber of the Teheran prosecutor-general's office. Her family was not told why she was arrested or where she was being held.
The five other imprisoned journalists - Javad Gholam Tamayomi, Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafihzadeh, Hanif Mazroi and Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi - are expected to be accused of having sex with her. Some of them are said to have been forced to sign confessions. Such accusations by the authorities are common against political prisoners in Iran.
Tamayomi, of the daily Mardomsalari ("Democracy") was arrested on 18 October when he answered a summon from the same officials as Ghazi. Memarian (editor of a weblog) was arrested on 10 October, Rafihzadeh (cultural editor of Etemad) on 7 September, Mazroi (who worked on several reformist papers) on 8 September and Ebrahimi (former political editor of Etemad) at his home on 27 September.