Tortured for blogging

Via Eric, comes a reminder that while we can comfortably debate the role of blogs in the media and politics, some of our blogging collegues face the open hostility and retribution of authoritarian regimes.

This LA Times report looks at the 20 Iranian bloggers who were arrested:

The arrest of online journalists and bloggers began last fall. The writers say they were tortured and forced to publicly denounce their work. Even technicians who worked on Web pages have been imprisoned. President Khatami has ordered an investigation into the reports of torture.

“They think that now that they’ve closed the papers they should concentrate on the Web logs,” said Ali Mazroui, Hanif’s father and a former reformist lawmaker. “They think if they close this new source of information, they’ll have control.”

When the government sent him a written order to turn over his son Hanif, Ali Mazroui didn’t have much choice. He escorted the young man to the police station. That was Sept. 8. Ali Mazroui didn’t see his son again for two months.

Called before a presidential commission in December, Hanif Mazroui was among a handful of journalists and bloggers who told of the torture they’d suffered behind bars. They had been beaten, left in solitary confinement and forced to make false confessions, they said. They’d been grilled about their past sexual relationships, they said, and denied access to lawyers.

The Committe to Protect Bloggers has links to more accounts and co-ordinates solidarity campaigns. Go and check them out.