17.06.2019 – Photojournalist arrested in southern province
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Milad Bahri, a photojournalist arrested on 15 May in Shadegan, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, was transferred on 3 June to Sheiban prison in Ahvaz, the provincial capital. After his arrest by intelligence ministry agents, Bahri was initially held at the ministry’s detention centre in Shadegan. His family has still not been told why he is being held. According to his family, he had been very active in his coverage of flood-hit areas. Many journalists and citizen-journalists have been arrested since 22 March in connection with the unpreceded flash flooding that hit much of Iran, especially the south.
03.06.2019 - Massoud Kazami to serve a two-year jail term
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that Massoud Kazami, a freelance journalist who used to work for the daily newspaper Shargh (see the 22 May 2019 entry below), has been sentenced to a total of four and a half years in prison and a two-year ban on media activity after his release.
Kazami was given a two-year jail term for “insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei,” two years for “publishing false information” and six months for “insulting regime officials.” He will have to serve two years under article 134 of the Islamic criminal code, which says that a person convicted on several charges only serves the sentence applied to the most serious one. His lawyer says he has filed an appeal.
22.05.2019 - Former Shargh reporter arrested
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns journalist Massoud Kazami’s arrest on 22 May after he was tried by a Tehran revolutionary court. According to his lawyer, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, two new charges – anti-government propaganda and “meeting and plotting against the government” – have been brought against him. A former reporter for the daily newspaper Shargh, Kazami often posts tweets criticizing the leaders of the different government factions.
Amir Hossein Mohammadi Far, Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Amirgholi, three members of the editorial staff of the student newspaper Game who were arrested in January, are meanwhile still being held pending trial (see the 15 January report below). The three citizen-journalists were transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison on 28 April, but the Evin prosecutor’s office says it has not received their case file from the ministry of intelligence. This is preventing their case from being processed.
16.05.2019 - Raid on monthly Iran Farda
Ministry of intelligence agents searched the headquarters of the monthly Iran Farda on 12 May, confiscating computers, data storage devices and files. Iran Farda’s editor, Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, has been detained since 1 May, when he was arrested during a demonstration organized by independent labour unions outside parliament. It is not known where or why Behbahani and Marzieh Amiri, a journalist arrested the same day (see the 6 May report below), are being held.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) points out that arbitrary detention in a secret location constitutes a flagrant breach of article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 11 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also violates articles 32 and 39 of the Iranian constitution.
14.05.2019 – Hengameh Shahidi’s long jail term upheld on appeal
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a Tehran appeal court’s decision to uphold the sentence of 12 years and nine months in prison that Hengameh Shahidi, a journalist and
editor of the Paineveste blog, received for her revelations about the lack of justice within the Iranian judicial system and her criticism of its chief, Sadegh Amoli Larijan. Passed on 1 December 2018 at the end of a trial behind closed doors, the sentence includes a ban on joining political groups, a ban on any online or media activity, and a ban on leaving the country after she has completed the jail term. She was arrested on being discharged from hospital on 25 June 2018 and has been held in isolation and denied her basic rights ever since.
13.06.2019 – Weekly suspended, journalist arrested
The Tehran prosecutor’s office for media and culture suspended the pro-reform weekly Seda (“The Voice” in Persian) on 11 May. Officials gave no grounds for the decision and a phone call was used to notify the weekly. The latest issue’s front-page story was about the tension between Iran and the United States, described as a “choice between war and peace,” and the possible options for negotiation, which the regime does not accept.
Ali Mlihi, a journalist the Seda and the monthly Indisheh Poya, was arrested the next day by agents from the prosecutor’s office for media and culture after he reported in a tweet that Seda had been suspended for “warning of the danger of war and the need to negotiate.” He was released pending trial after being held for several hours and paying bail.
6.05.2019 - Two journalists arrested arbitrarily on May Day
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arrests of two journalists – Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, the editor of the monthly Iran Farda, and Marzieh Amiri, a reporter for the daily newspaper Shargh – on 1 May.
Samimi Behbahani, who also heads a press freedom association, was arrested by security and intelligence agents during a demonstration organized by independent labour unions outside the parliament building in Tehran. Amiri was arrested while she was reporting outside the intelligence police station on Tehran’s Vozara Avenue.
Both journalists are still being held in Security Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison although many of the protesters arrested on 1 May have since been bailed and although a request was made for Samimi Behbahani’s release on bail.
After being arrested in June 2009, Samimi Behbahani was sentenced in February 2010 to six years in prison on charges of “publishing false information with the aim of confusing public opinion” and “activities against national security.” He was finally released in May 2015.
24.01.2019 – Two citizen-journalists released
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that two citizen-journalists, Alireza Tavakoli and Mohammad Mehdi Zaman Zadeh, were released conditionally on 18 and 20 January respectively on completing half of their five-year jail sentences.
Arrested in September 2016, they were originally sentenced to 12 years in prison in April 2017 on charges of “insulting [Supreme Leader] Ali Khamenei and Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder,” “insulting what is most sacred in Islam” and anti-government propaganda.
These sentences were later reduced to five years in prison on appeal. And finally, on the occasion of the Iranian New Year (March 2018), the five-year sentences were reduced to two and a half years under article 134 of the New Islamic Penal Code, according to which those convicted of several crimes serve only the sentence for the most serious charge.
22.01.2019 - Another member of the student newspaper Game arrested
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that another member of the student newspaper Game, civil society activist Amir Amirgholi, was arrested at the same time as two colleagues (see the 15 January post below), but his arrest was not confirmed officially at the time. His Twitter et WhatsApp accounts remained active for more than 48 hours, until his father reported that “intelligence ministry agents” were using them. His family does not know where or why he is being held.
Iranian state TV broadcast a “documentary” on 19 January in which several activists and workers, who had been arrested in connection with the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane company strike, confessed to being in contact with opposition communist parties abroad. Broadcast on prime time on Channel 2, which is reputed to be an intelligence agency mouthpiece, the broadcast also showed a meeting of the staff of Game, calling it a “subversive group.”
Two people who were freed provisionally after been arrested in connection with the strike, the activist Sepideh Gholian and the worker Esmail Bakhshi, reported on social networks several days before this broadcast that they had been tortured. The authorities issued formal denials and intelligence ministry agents re-arrested them the day after the broadcast. Their torture claims have meanwhile prompted an outcry and a “I was also tortured” campaign on social networks. Several other former detainees have also now reported being tortured in detention.
16.01.2019 - Persecution of Narges Mohammadi continues
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the unrelenting manner in which the Iranian judicial system and the authorities in Tehran’s Evin prison continue to persecute the 46-year-old journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.
She and one of her fellow detainees, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (who has British and Iranian dual citizenship) began a hunger strike on 14 January in protest against the way they are denied proper medical attention. Mohammadi has been allowed no phone calls ever since announcing the planned hunger strike two weeks ago, including her weekly phone calls with her children, who live in exile in France with their father.
The spokesperson of Iran’s banned Centre for Human Rights Defenders, Mohammadi has been held since 5 May 2015 and has been sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison on several charges, although she is officially supposed to serve “only” ten of these years, according to a law adopted in the summer of 2015 under which those convicted of several crimes serve only the sentence for the most serious charge.
An employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the London-based charitable arm of the Thomson Reuters news agency, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested while visiting her family in Tehran in April 2016 and was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016.
15.01.2019 - Two more student newspaper journalists arrested
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that two citizen-journalists – Amir Hossein Mohammadi Far, the editor of the student newspaper Game, and Sanaz Allahyari, a member of its editorial staff – were arrested at their Tehran homes by intelligence ministry agents on 9 January. There has not yet been any official statement about the reason for their arrest. According to their families, they were taken to the southern city of Ahavaz. RSF has been told that, like fellow Game journalist Assal Mohammadi, they have been arrested for their coverage of strikes by workers at the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane company, who demonstrated for 20 days outside the office of the governor of the southern district of Shush to demand more wages.
07.01.2019 - Citizen-journalist released pending trial
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Assal Mohammadi, a citizen-journalist who was arrested at her Tehran home on 4 December, has been released provisionally. After payment of bail, she was freed on 5 January pending trial. A student at the Islamic Azad University and member of the editorial board of the student newspaper Game, she was arrested after writing about strikes by workers at the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane company, who demonstrated for 20 days outside the office of the governor of the southern district of Shush to demand more wages.
Iran is one of the world’s five biggest prisons for journalists and citizen-journalists, according to RSF’s 2018 round-up.
For more information : RSF writes to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about journalists detained in Iran