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Canadian Journalist Arrested in Iran

22 June 2009 No Comment

A Canadian journalist has been arrested in Tehran today.

“Consular officials are sending a diplomatic note to Iranian authorities in Tehran to demand immediate consular access to the Canadian journalist… We are calling in the Iranian Chargé d’Affaires to express our grave concerns about recent developments in Iran, as well as to underline our desire for immediate consular access to the Canadian who is reported to have been arrested,” foreign affairs spokesperson André Lemay said in a statement.

“Due to the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed at this time,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade concluded.

It has been ten days since the disputed June 12 Presidential elections that alleged incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad’s victorious re-election. With allegations of ballot-rigging, Iranians have taken to the streets in protest, in numbers not seen since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, demanding to know “where is my vote,” referring to the low vote count attributed to Mr. Mousavi and reformist clerk Mehdi Karroubi.

After Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s public confirmation of an Ahmandinejad “definitive victory,” he warned the demonstrators, “Flexing muscles on the streets after the election is not right. It means challenging the elections and democracy. If they don’t stop, the consequences of the chaos would be their responsibility.”

Since Ayatollah Khamenei’s address, police and pro-government regime militia forces, the Basij, have made good on their deadly threats to forcefully stifle any additional demonstrations or opposition. With no ability to confirm with certainty, reports of protestors killed range from 17 to more than 250. Hundreds of protestors have been attacked by tear gas and beaten as the protests continue.

Foreign journalists covering Iran’s elections have had their visas cancelled or been refused renewal. Journalists’ have also been warned to remain in their hotels, as the regime attempts to black-out events on the streets of Iran which thus far have been thwarted by social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Canada’s Iran Embassy Controversy

Canada came under heavy criticism last Saturday after allegations initially posted on Twitter claimed that the Canadian embassy in Tehran was refusing to take in injured Iranians seeking sanctuary. The allegations are “false” said the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“The embassy was closed and there were no Canadians at the Embassy when the protests began. The Canadian Embassy was open for regular working hours Sunday June 21. Embassy staff are making every attempt to ensure services provided, particular consular services, remain unaffected by the situation.”

In the statement to CFP, the Department of Foreign Affairs added: “Reports that we were providing shelter to Iranian demonstrators are false,” and “to our knowledge, no embassies in Tehran have provided shelter to injured foreign nationals.”

During last Friday prayers, Ayatollah Khamenei led a “Death to America” and “Death to Britain” chant.