Saturday, February 26, 2005


Iran is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to keep an online diary.

Web logs have become a popular forum for dissent. And the Iranian government has responded by arresting dozens of bloggers. Some of those detained are reportedly being held in solitary confinement and tortured.

Bloggers Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both currently in prison in Iran. Mr Sigarchi has been in detention since 17 January while Mr Saminejad was first detained in November.

When regular print outlets were censored, many Iranians turned to weblogging. In fact, weblogs have become a key form of communication in Iran. It is estimated that there are some 46,000 bloggers in the country.

Sina Motallebi used to be one of them. In 2001, Mr Motallebi was working as a columnist for a Tehran newspaper.
But the government began censoring his work, and so Mr Motallebi started a Persian-language blog called Diaries of a Websurfer. "I felt free and uncensored in my weblog," he says.

That freedom, however, did not last. Iran's judiciary became concerned after Mr Motallebi posted an entry critical of the Iranian government's treatment of a well-known political prisoner. Mr Motallebi was first summoned to court in the Autumn of 2001. Over the next year and half, he was summoned four more times.

The last time, in April of 2003, Mr Motallebi was arrested and thrown in jail. "I spent 22 days in solitary confinement, and I was interrogated," he says. "I was under very, very severe psychological torture. Still, the effect of torture remains on my soul."

BBC NEWS | Technology | The price paid for blogging Iran


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