Freed after 8 years in prison, Iranian journalist must now spend 2 years in internal exile
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Iranian judicial system’s unrelenting persecution of Soheil Arabi, an award-winning journalist who was released from prison yesterday after being detained for nearly eight years but who must now serve two years of internal exile in a remote southern city.
Awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category in 2017, Arabi is no longer being held in any of the prisons in which he was mistreated and even tortured but his sentence is not yet over, because he must now spend two years in Borazjan, a city in the south of the country more than 1,000 km from his Tehran home.
His family condemns this additional sentence along with the fact that he was imprisoned “illegally for 285 days.” His lawyer says the 285 days should be discounted from the time he has to spend in internal exile.
“One of the world’s most repressive countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not content itself with arresting and jailing its citizens arbitrarily but also gives them ‘complementary sentences’ in order to silence them forever,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk. “These sentences breach articles 12 and 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.”
Arabi was the victim of arbitrary and illegal judicial and “disciplinary” harassment for years. Arrested in Tehran in late 2013, he was successively sentenced to three years in prison, 30 lashes and a heavy fine. A few months later, he was sentenced to death but the sentence was then overturned and, in 2015, he was finally sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
During the first few months that he was held, he was mistreated with the aim of making him confess to his involvement in the creation of a Facebook network that blasphemed Islamic and spread information critical of the regime.
Arabi was moved from one prison to another, spent long periods in solitary confinement and was even tortured and injured for becoming the mouthpiece of those inmates denouncing the appalling conditions in Tehran prison. He began another hunger strike last month in protest against the treatment of detainees in Iran.
His mother, Farangis Mazloom, has also been subjected to judicial harassment and was notified on 20 October that she will have to serve a one-year jail sentence for drawing the public’s attention to the conditions in which her son was being held, and for protesting against the inhuman and degrading treatment to which he was repeatedly subjected.
Iran is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.