Iranian weblogger arrested


Iranian weblogger arrested
: Editor: Myself, a weblog about things Iranian, reports:

Sina Motallebi, well-known blogger and journalist was arrested this morning. He is accused of threatening the national security by giving interviews to Persian language radios outside Iran, wrtiting articles both in newspapers and his weblog.

His weblog, WebGard (i.e. web surfer), was among the top 5 Persian most popular weblogs while his wife, Farnaz, has her own weblog, mostly writing about their newly-born baby boy, Mani.

Sina used to write film reviews for Iranian film magazines in the begining of his career, then joined the reformist paper of Jameah and continued to work with reformist papers. He was the political news editor in Ham-Mihan newspaper which only lasted a few months.

His father, Saeed Motallebi, who is a respected and experienced screenwriter, has been unofficially banned from working after the revolution because of his films in pre-revolution years.

NOTE: Spreading the word may help him to be released earlier. help spread the news!

You heard the man: Spread the news.

: Update: Here is Motallebi in a 2002 Guardian story about underground culture in Iran.

Sina Motallebi, who writes for the newspaper Hayat-i No, also has a weblog where he makes political comments. These are often censored by the newspaper’s editors, who don’t want to overstep an ill-defined political boundary and find themselves shut down, the fate of many papers over the past few years. Motallebi says, “There is a lack of freedom of speech in Iran, so weblogs are a good opportunity, especially for younger people, to explain their views and attitudes, because they can’t explain them in any other media. They are a good way to exchange news, so they are a way to freedom and democracy, but it’s still very young, less than a year old.”

: As people use weblogs to exercise their God-given right to freedom of expression and as they get in trouble for this, it is our responsibility as fellow webloggers to help however we can.

To the working journalists among us: Looks like a damned good story to me.

To everyone else: Glenn Reynolds suggests contacting the Iranian government about this. An email address:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe this is the first time a weblogger has been arrested for weblogging. To the barricades, people!

: Feel free to take the simple banner above and put it on your site, linking it to this.

Standing caveat: This has not been confirmed; it has been reported just on one blog.

: Can any Persian bilingual bloggers (and there are many of them) translate some of what Motallebi has written for the rest of us?

: Update: In my comments is a link to a story that confirms the arrest [Thank you, Nima]:

Sina Motallebi was taken to jail after he responded to a summons Saturday to report to a police station for interrogation, Farnaz Ghazizadeh told The Associated Press. She said police promised to release her husband in two days, but she believed he would be held longer.

“Sina has been summoned by the judiciary several times over the past four months,” Ghazizadeh said. “They object to materials in his web site including interviews he gave to foreign media.”

Motallebi runs the Farsi Web site, which he developed after the hard-line judiciary banned the reformist newspaper he wrote for, the daily Hayat-e-Nou, or New Era. The newspaper had published a cartoon showing the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran’s 1979 revolution, being crushed by a hand.

The struggle for freedom in Iran
: See also this interview with Daniel Cohn Bendit translated by Maciej Ceglowski.

Cohn Bendit was an anti-Vietnam-war activist in Europe in the ’60s; he has been Germany’s Green representative on the EU and is now France’s. He has opposed U.S. military action in Iraq — arguing that it is a repetition of the mistake of Vietnam: an attempt to change a nation’s politics through military force, a product of Bush Bolshevism — “It’s the conviction that if the world is modelled on American democracy, there will be no more conflict.” [A fascinating interview, even if there’s much to disagree with.]

But listen to him about Iran:

The only society, the only country in that region that is fighting for democracy is Iran. They are trying to emancipate themselves, fighting a dictatorship. Why not help the Iranians in the same way that help was given to the anti-Franco forces in Spain, the opposition in Greece, the oposition in the Soviet bloc countries? If Iranians liberate themselves, we will see two benefits – the overthrow of a dictatorship by a nation is a very contagious example, while a national emancipation in a conflict with religious fundamentalism is a model for the entire Muslim world. So I agree with intervention – just democratic, not military.

There is no better democratic intervention than defending freedom of speech, freedom of the press (whether that press is on paper or on this screen you’re reading now).