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STOCKHOLM - Skyline International calls on the Iranian authorities to stop their violations against journalists, and to guarantee that the media can work freely, in safety, and without restrictions or harassment.

The Stockholm-based international organization condemns the arrest of Iranian journalists, Masoud Heydari and Hamid Haghjoo, on April 21 due to their cartoons criticizing the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities released Heydari on bail, and are holding Haghjoo in custody pending an investigation without identifying the charges against him.

Skyline notes that on the 20th of this month, an Iranian court issued a 5-year prison sentence to the well-known journalist in the country, Kayvan Samimi Behbahani. Iranian authorities arrested Samimi Behbahani in 2019 while he was participating in a demonstration in front of the Parliament on International Labor Day; he was released two months later.

Skyline encourages Iranian authorities to stop the persecution and detention of journalists for their media work and to fulfill their international obligations towards freedom of expression and human rights.

Accordingly, Skyline highlights that Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly affirms the right to freedom of expression. Restrictions to this right can only be applied following the provisions of the law.

Skyline encourages Iranian officials to strengthen those mechanisms that guarantee the freedom of expression and information by international standards. It also should commit to enforcing legislation that promotes the freedom of the press and the easy access to information. Skyline reminds the Iranian government that journalists and other media personnel in Iran should not be subject to any unlawful or arbitrary restrictions while seeking to obtain, transfer and share information and ideas.