Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2022
11.04.2022 – Ailing journalist returned to prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is very concerned about the state of health of Reza Khandan Mahabadi, a 60-year-old journalist and member of the Iranian Writers’ Association who was returned to his prison cell on 5 April after being hospitalised in early January with a severe case of Covid-19. Mahabadi still has respiratory problems, RSF has learned.
Another member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, Baktash Abtin, died on 8 January as a result of not being treated promptly when he caught Covid-19 in Tehran’s Evin prison. A third member of the association, Kayvan Bagen, was released conditionally on 16 March after serving a third of his sentence.
Mahabadi, Abtin and Bagen were all arrested in September 2020 to begin serving the sentences ranging from three and half to six years in jail that they had received in May 2019 on charges of anti-government propaganda and illegally publishing an online newspaper on Facebook.
31.03.2022 - RSF welcomes release of two bloggers
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Ali Asghar Honarmand, one of the members of the Narenji (Orange) tech news website who were first arrested in 2013, has finally been released after eight years in prison. “Hello World!” he tweeted on 16 March. “The first tweet after 8 years. What happened to us is inexplicable. But I wish good health and happiness to all free people. Life goes on.”
Arrested in December 2013, Honarmand and his colleagues were convicted in May 2014 by a court in the southeastern city of Kerman court on charges of “anti-government publicity,” “actions threatening national security” and “collaborating with TV stations based abroad.” After being given sentences ranging from two to 11 years in prison, they were all initially freed on payment of large amounts in bail but a court eventually upheld the sentences in November 2015. However, the authorities did not tell them until they came to rearrest them to begin serving the sentences. Honarmand is the last to be released.
RSF has also learned that Kazem Hoot, a 20-year-old video blogger who covers environmental issues, was released provisionally on 23 March pending trial. Based in Dashtiari, in the southeastern province Sistan and Baluchestan, he was arrested by Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents on 26 February. Hoot is very active on Instagram and has around ten thousand followers. He posts videos about damage to the environment and the difficulties of the population in this province, which is one of the poorest in Iran.
10.03.2022 – Business reporter to serve long jail sentence
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn Amirabbas Azaramvand, a reporter who covers industry, mines and development for the daily newspaper Samt, is being made to serve a sentence of four years and three months in prison. Azaramvand was arrested during a protest by women’s rights defenders in Tehran on 8 March and was transferred to Evin prison the next day. Prison officials told his family that he had himself “requested implementation of the prison sentence” – a claim he later denied in phone call to his family from the prison.
Azaramvand was originally arrested by intelligence ministry agents at his home on 1 September 2021 and was held for 20 days before being released on bail. A Tehran revolutionary tribunal issued the prison sentence last month after convicting him on a charge of “anti-government propaganda.” The court also banned him from leaving the country for two years after his release and banned him from any political or civil society activity during the same period.
09.03.2022 – Young environmental video blogger detained
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arrest of Kazem Hoot, a young video blogger based in Dashtiari, in the southeastern province Sistan and Baluchestan, who reports on environmental issues.
Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents arrested him on 26 February and took him to Zahedan, the provincial capital, the next day. They told his family they just wanted to ask him “a few questions” and that he would be “released straight away.” Eleven days later, the family has yet to be told where and why he is being detained.
Aged 20, Hoot is very active on Instagram and has around ten thousand followers. He posts videos about damage to the environment and the difficulties of the population in this province, which is one of the poorest in Iran.
03.03.2022 - Covid-19 continues to threaten the lives of imprisoned journalists
As people continue to die from the latest Covid-19 wave in Iran, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its concern for the health of imprisoned journalists and calls for their immediate release.
Mostafa Abdi, one of the editors of the Sufi news website Majzooban Nor, has caught Covid-19 for the third time in two years at the notorious Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary (Fashafouyeh Prison). “This time he has a form of pneumonia that is regarded as serious,” his brother tweeted on 2 March. “He has been in this prison for four years and is due to spend another two years there.”
Abdi has been jailed since 2018 along with Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, Kasra Nouri and Abbas Dehghan, three other members of the editorial committee of Majzooban Nor, the only source of independent news and information about the Sufi order of Gonabi dervishes. Like the other three, he has not been allowed any of the furloughs to which prisoners are entitled by law in Iran.
Arrested during violent clashes between police and members of the Gonabi dervish community in the north Tehran district of Pasdaran on the night of 19 February 2018, they were given sentences ranging from 7 to 26 years in prison in September 2018. They were sentenced in absentia because they refused to attend any of the trial hearings on the grounds that they had no legal representation and the trial was unfair.
25.02.2022 – Two jailed women journalists granted medical furloughs
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that two women journalists, Narges Mohammadi and Alieh Motalebzadeh, have been granted medical furloughs from Qarchak women’s prison, but it reiterates its call for their immediate release.
Mohammadi, who is also a human rights defender, was taken from the notorious prison to a Tehran hospital with respiratory and heart problems on 18 February and underwent surgery for a blocked coronary artery. She was returned to Qarchak after the operation but, according to her husband, Taghi Rahmani, the judicial and prison authorities finally granted her a medical furlough on 20 February.
Motalebzadeh’s husband, Sadra Abdollahi, reported in a tweet on 23 February that his wife has been granted a medical furlough after testing positive for Covid-19. This is the second time that this photo-journalist has caught the virus in less than 18 months. Mohammadi and Motalebzadeh were transferred in January to Qarchak, located in Varamin, an outlying suburb on the south side of the capital, from Evin prison in one of the city’s northern suburbs.
24.02.2022 - Under house arrest for 11 years
Mehdi Karoubi, a former parliamentary speaker and owner of the closed newspaper Etemad Melli, now aged 84, Mir Hossein Mousavi, the owner of the closed newspaper Kalameh Sabaz, now aged 80, and Mousavi’s wife, the writer Zahra Rahnavard, now aged 76, complete their 11th year under house arrest today.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) points out that their detention has no legal basis under Iranian law, flouts international standards and is a flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as they are being denied the right to a fair trial.
After saying nothing for ten days, the authorities confirmed on 24 February 2011 that Karoubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard had been placed under house arrest in Tehran. Leaders of the protest movement against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June 2009, they were branded by the regime as “heads of sedition.” They have all been hospitalised several times since 2011, in some cases with heart problems linked to the conditions in which they are being held and their inability to move about the city.
22.02.2022 - Two journalists arrested
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the unrelenting crackdown on press freedom in Iran, in which two more journalists were arrested at opposite ends of the country on 13 February.
One was Rozbeh Priri, a citizen-journalist and translator, who was arrested by plainclothesmen in Tabriz, the capital of northwestern Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, and was taken to the city’s main prison. Relatives say he was detained to begin serving the three-year jail sentence he received from a Tabriz court on 12 May 2021. The court, which also fined him 5 million tomans (1,500 euros), imposed the sentence in response to a Revolutionary Guard complaint accusing him of “false information” in his Instagram description of the beating his brother received when arrested and jailed in March 2021. A civil society activist who was arrested while distributing Azeri-language books, his brother was hospitalised for ten days as a result of the beating.
The other was Iraj Moghadam, the editor of the Hezar Pisheh news website, who was arrested under a warrant issued by a court in Chavar, a town in the southwestern province of Ilam, in response to the complaint brought against him by a local state-owned petrochemical company because he published a copy of the payslip of one of the company’s directors as evidence of how much he was being paid.