On January 31, 2012, The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President
of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement of concerned about the state of journalists and netizens in Iran. She calls for Iran to review harsh sentences and for a moratorium on the death penalty. The text of the statement follows:
“I am extremely worried about the growing harassment and persecution of journalists and internet bloggers in Iran. The right to free speech is an internationally enshrined fundamental human right, which Iran itself has freely signed up to respect and protect. In the past few weeks, security forces have reportedly arrested many journalists, including Sahameddin Bourghani, Parastoo Dokouhaki, Hassan Fathi, Farshad Ghorbanpour, Ehsan Houshmand, Fatemeh Kheradmand, Saeed Madani, Shahram Manouchehri, Marzieh Rasouli, Arash Sadeghi and Mohammad Soleimani Nia. I call on the Iranian authorities to release these journalists and restore their rights to freely communicate their views.