Iranian state media chiefs try to escape EU sanctions by denying role in human rights abuses

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Justice for Iran (JFI) – 11 May 2015: Lawyers representing two of the most senior figures in Iran´s official media have argued that their clients bear no responsibility for the broadcast of forced confessions on state television.

Mohammad Sarafraz, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), and Hamid Reza Emadi, the head of news for Press TV, an English language satellite channel, are asking the European Court of Justice to remove their names from an EU sanctions list.

Both men were subjected to an EU travel ban and asset freeze in 2013 after their media outlets produced and broadcast the confessions of detainees who had been tortured or mistreated.

“The lawyers denied the responsibility of the two individulas who have had a central role in editorial control, as if the violations had been committed by ghosts,“ said Shadi Sadr, the executive director of JFI.

Justice for Iran (JFI), which participates as a third party, has provided the court in Luxembourg with fresh evidence demonstrating that the channels controlled by Sarafraz and Emadi showed the forced confessions of journalists, political activists and members of the Arab and Kurdish minorities. JFI has published several reports on Press TV’s role in human rights violations.

Four Spanish lawyers defending the Iranian media chiefs do not dispute that these confessions were indeed broadcast. Instead, they claim their clients had no responsibility for showing them and no links with the Iranian security authorities holding the prisoners.

Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist, was shown on Press TV confessing to espionage in 2009 after being tortured in jail. The legal team of the Iranian media chiefs described this as only an “interview“. Bahari was later sentenced to 13 years and 6 months imprisonment and 74 lashes.

“The lawyers denied the responsibility of the two individulas who have had a central role in editorial control, as if the violations had been committed by ghosts,“ said Shadi Sadr, the executive director of JFI.  “We should note that even according to the Iranian laws, Sarafraz has full responsibility for all IRIB’s program including the Press TV’s.“

JFI also asked how the state media could have gained access to the prisoners without collaborating with the Iranian security agencies, particularly the Intelligence Ministry. Lawyers for both EU and JFI have highlighted the fact that the forced confessions were used as evidence against the prisoners in Iran‘s courts. This breach of due process was a second reason for the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on Sarafraz and Emadi.

“We have presented many reasons proving that the two individuals are accountable for human rights violations. Our hope is that the court, after accepting this evidence, issues the desired verdict, providing continuity and maintaining the previous sanctions,“ said Reinhard Marx, the lawyer for JFI.

The court hearings, which are open to the public, began on May 5 and a verdict is expected within three to six months. “We have presented many reasons proving that the two individuals are accountable for human rights violations. Our hope is that the court, after accepting this evidence, issues the desired verdict, providing continuity and maintaining the previous sanctions,“ said Reinhard Marx, the lawyer for JFI.

For further information, please contact Dr. Reinhard Marx, the lawyer for Justice for Iran (for English and German interviews): +49 (69) 24 27 17 34

For interviews with some of the victims and their relatives, please contact us at: info@justiceforiran.org

 

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