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Panpa Bulletin : May 2006
NEWS Iranian journalist released The laureate of the WAN 2006 Golden Pen of Freedom award, Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji, has been released from prison in Iran. Ganji, a leading investigative journalist who was one of Iran's most renowned political prisoners, is the author of the book Dungeon of Ghosts, in which he implicates leading conserva- tive figures in the murders of five writers and intellectuals in 1998. The book is said to have been a major factor in the con- servative defeat in parliamentary elections of February 2000. Ganji has reportedly been tortured in prison and has gone on two long hunger strikes. He has defiantly refused to re- nounce his critique of the state. In a letter smuggled out of prison, he wrote: "Let it be known that if learning my lesson is to denounce my previous opinions, Ganji will never learn his lesson." Ganji was arrested in April 2000 following his participation in a Berlin conference in which political and social reform in Iran were publicly debated. He was sentenced to six years in prison for 'insulting religious edicts and figures, threatening national security and dissemination of propaganda against the Islamic system.' The World Association of Newspapers and the World Edi- tors Forum have welcomed Ganji's release, but are concerned Iranian authorities would continue to harass him and could return him to prison. WAN and the WEF have called on the Iranian authorities to respect freedom of expression and allow Ganji to continue his work. They also asked the government to allow Ganji to travel to Moscow in June to accept the Golden Pen of Freedom. Egyptian journalist jailed The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum have protested to the Egyptian government against the sentencing of a journalist on libel charges in a case that comes two years after President Hosni Mubarak promised to abolish imprisonment for publishing offences. In a letter to the Egyptian Minister of Information, Anas El-Fiqqi, WAN andWEF called for the libel charges and one-year jail sentence against journalist Amira Malash to be dropped. They called on the government to decriminalise press offences and respect interna- tional standards of freedom of expression. Call to release ageing journalist As Burmese journalist and WAN Golden Pen of Freedom laureate U Win Tim marked his 76th birthday in prison, inter- national press organisations have again called for his release. In a letter to the Burmese government, WAN and the WEF said the continued imprisonment of U Win Tin was a "deep blemish on the international standing of Myanmar (Burma) which can only be erased by his release." U Win Tin, a founder of the National League for Democracy, has been held for 17 years in Insein prison. The former editor-in-chief of the Hanthawaddy newspaper and winner of WAN's 2001 Golden Pen of Freedom has had two heart attacks and suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and a prostate gland disorder