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"Iran, biggest jail in the world for journalists": RSF

PARIS, Feb 14 (AFP) - The French-based press watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF - Reporters Without Borders), said Iran had become the world's biggest jail for journalists on Wednesday after its arrest of a pro-reform magazine editor. Editorial here

RSF said the arrest of Abbas Dalvand, head of Lorestan magazine, brought the number of journalists being held in the country's prisons to 13.

"This country has thus become the biggest prison in the world for journalists with Myanmar," the organisation said.

Dalvand was arrested on Tuesday on charges of defamation and insulting the regime and was ordered by a judge to be held in dentention.

He stands accused of "defamation, publishing deceitful articles which notably insult the revolutionary and judicial institutions" of the regime, the IRNA news agency reported.

Another pro-reform journalist, Mohammad-Bagher Vali-Beik was detained on Sunday in Tehran.

The former IRNA journalist was arrested as the head of a publishing group which for three years has been behind most of the reformist daily newspapers in the region whose circulation has been suspended.

Conservative dominated legal authorities have closed down around 25 publications and arrested some 15 journalists since April.

Last month, RSF called for the release of 10 reporters in Iran, describing the country as "the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East."


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