February 18, 2006

Two jailed Iranian reporters await press trial

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Two Iranian journalists are in jail
awaiting trial, the judiciary said on Saturday, after local
media reported their newspaper criticized Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, father of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The reporters, who wrote for a newspaper based in the Gulf
province of Hormuzgan, are being held in Tehran's notorious
Evin prison, where several prominent dissidents are jailed.

"Both of the suspects are safe and well and are awaiting
trial in the Tehran prison," Mohsen Yektan-Khodaee, head of the
judiciary in Hormuzgan, told Reuters.

The judiciary was unable to say when the two would go on
trial for "insulting Islamic values." Criticism of Iran's
system of clerical rule is equated with criticism of Islam

Rights group Amnesty International said it had demanded
information on the welfare of one of the journalists, Elham
Afroutan. It feared she may have slipped into a coma after
attempting suicide or could have died in detention.

"The death or suicide of Miss Elham Afroutan is hereby
denied," Yektan-Khodaee said.

The second detainee was the editor-in-chief of the
Hormuzgan weekly journal "Tamaddon-e Hormuzgan." His name was
not immediately available.