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Canada21 June 2005

Documentary filmmaker beaten by embassy security guards

Reporters Without Borders called today on the Iranian embassy in Ottawa to explain an "appalling" attack by its security guards on Canadian-Iranian documentary filmmaker Masoud Raouf at the embassy on 17 June.

"This is an unspeakable assault on someone who was simply doing his job and had even asked permission to film," it said, "and we expect the three guards responsible to be punished."

Raouf was beaten when he was about to film absentee voting at the embassy in the country’s presidential election. He told Canadian police, who were outside the embassy because of a demonstration by Iranians calling for a vote boycott, what he was going to do and was given the go-ahead.

Once inside the building, he immediately asked for permission at the reception desk and set up his equipment. Three embassy guards then ordered him to switch off his camera and hand over the film in it. Raouf said he had not yet started filming and asked them to call the Canadian police.

The guards said they would but failed to do so. One of them seized the camera and looked at film taken of the protest outside the embassy. Masouf again asked for Canadian police to be called.

The guards then punched him on the nose and face, breaking a tooth, tore his clothes and threw him against a wall, kicking him in the legs and in the crutch. Masouf broke a window to attract the attention of the police, who came into the embassy and took him out after 45 minutes.

Though seriously injured, he was able to describe the attack to the demonstrators and media outside the embassy before being taken to hospital. His camera was returned but without the film in it.

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