Four Iranian journalists sentenced to total of nearly 30 years in prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the continuing persecution of journalists in Iran and calls on the authorities to overturn the latest prison sentences imposed on four journalists, which range from one to 23 years.
The victims are Porya Alami, Tahereh Riahai, Alieh Motalebzadeh and Kiomars Marzban, who have been sentenced to 12 months, 30 months, three years and 23 years in prison respectively. In each case, the jail sentence is to be followed by a ban on leaving the country and a ban on journalistic or social activities.
Living in self-imposed exile in Malaysia since 2009, Kiomars Marzban was arrested by the intelligence ministry during a visit to Iran in July 2018 to see his ailing mother, and was charged with “collaborating with enemy states,” “insulting what is sacred and religious,” “anti-government activities” and “insulting the Supreme Leader and Islamic Republic’s Founder.”
An appeal court has just confirmed the combined 23-year prison sentence he received from a Tehran revolutionary court in August. Under a 2015 law, which says a person convicted on several charges serves only the sentence applied to the most serious one, he will have to serve an 11-year term.
Borna News social affairs editor Tahereh Riahai has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. Arrested by plainclothesmen from the intelligence ministry in December 2016, she was kept in isolation in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison for months until finally released provisionally in June 2017 pending trial after payment of 300 million toman (270,000 euros) in bail.
Alieh Motalebzadeh , a photojournalist, women’s rights activist and vice-president of Iran’s Association for the Defence of Press Freedom, was notified on 14 October that an appeal court has finally confirmed the three-year prison sentence she received from a Tehran revolutionary court in August 2017 on a charge of “meeting and conspiring against national security.” Arrested in November 2016, she was freed on bail of 300 million toman (270,000 euros) the following month pending trial.
Porya Alami, a journalist with the daily newspaper Shargh, was one of 12 journalists who were arrested in the space of 24 hours in Tehran in a sudden crackdown on media personnel in January 2013. Most of them were released a month later only to be given heavy prison sentences in subsequent trials.
According to his lawyer, Kaveh Rezvani, Alami originally received a five-year suspended prison sentence from revolutionary court but an appeal court has now sentenced him to a year in prison. Rezvani has asked for the case to be sent back to the high court.
RSF has meanwhile learned that Noushin Jafari, a photojournalist who was arrested on 3 August for “insulting Islam’s sacred values” on Twitter, was released on bail on 14 October pending trial.
Iran is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.