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Iranian Journalist Charged With Having "Unauthorized Blog"

Journalist and human rights activist Zhila Baniyaghoub (on monitor) on occasion of winning International Press Freedom Award, Toronto, 09Dec2009.
Prominent Iranian journalist and human
rights activist Zhila Baniyaghoub is facing a new criminal charge based on
statements written on her blog, RFE's Radio Farda reports.

Baniyaghoub's trial at a still undetermined date will be her fourth since
Iran's controversial June 2009 presidential election.

Baniyaghoub was arrested in June 2009 during the postelection crackdown along
with her husband, journalist Bahman Amouee. She was released on bail after two
months in detention.

In June 2010, Baniyaghoub was charged with "spreading propaganda against the
regime" and "insulting the president" and sentenced to one year in prison and
banned from any journalistic activities for 30 years. To date, she has not been
taken to prison to serve her term.

Baniyaghoub is the chief editor of the Focus on Iranian Women website and also
writes in her personal blog, "We Are Journalists."

Baniyaghoub's lawyer, Farideh Gheirat, has said that in her client's new case,
which was presented at preliminary hearing on April 9, a new charge
was made of "having a personal blog without any authorization from government

Attorney Mohammad Hossein Aghasi told Radio Farda on Monday that
there is nothing in Iran's constitution forbidding people from having a
personal blog.

"Having a weblog, a website, and the like needs no [official] authorization
under Iranian law," Aghasi said.

Baniyaghoub was awarded the Courage In Journalism prize by the International
Women's Media Foundation in 2009 and the Freedom of Speech Award from Reporters Without Borders in 2010.

More than 2,000 journalists, activists, students, and others were jailed in the
crackdown that followed the June 2009 disputed reelection of Iranian President
Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Many were subsequently released, while dozens were sentenced to prison terms.

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Compiled by RFE's Radio Farda and O wire.