July 6, 2010

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom
Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of journalist and human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi on bail. We do, however, remain deeply concerned that he still faces charges and is due to stand trial in early July.

According to our information, Emadeddin Baghi was released from Evin prison after posting a bail of 200 millian Tomans on June 23, 2010. Baghi was arrested on December 28, 2009 following the broadcast by the BBC Persian Service of a two-year old interview Baghi had conducted with the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, an influential cleric who died in December. The government has sought to clamp down on publicity about Montazeri, who had criticized the conduct of the June presidential election. Baghi reportedly faces additional charges of undertaking “propaganda against the state” and “colluding to commit acts against national security.” We understand he spent most of his time in detention in solitary confinement. He is due to be tried on July 7, 2010.

Convicted on at least three previous occasions in violation of international guarantees of freedom of expression, Emadeddin Baghi is well-known to PEN and other human rights organizations and admired around the world for his journalism and for his work as president of the Society for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, an organization that he founded in 2003. He is the author of 20 books, six of which we understand have been banned in Iran, and the recipient of the Martin Annals Award in 2009 and British Press Awards for International Journalist of the Year 2008. In December 2007 Baghi suffered a heart attack and three seizures in prison, and remained in poor health without adequate medical care until his release in October 2008.

PEN American Center welcomes Emadeddin Baghi’s release on bail, and hopes this signals a willingness to review his case. We urge the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against him, and release all writers being held in Iran in violation of their right to freedom of expression, as stated in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee           

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran

H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: 212-867-7086

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