Journalist’s wife asks: “He’s been held in Iran for more than a month, at least tell us why!”
Vahid Shamsoddinnezhad, a young Iranian journalist working for the Franco-German public service TV channel Arte, has been held for more than a month in Iran without the authorities giving any grounds for his arrest or providing any other information about his detention. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relaying his alarmed wife’s call for his immediate release.
“My husband Vahid has been detained for over a month and we know nothing,” said Reyhaneh, the journalist's young wife. “The Iranian authorities have said nothing. They act as if Vahid does not exist. I urge the Iranian authorities to provide information about the reasons for my husband's arrest. At least an official version. It is the most basic of his rights.”
His wife says the 30-year-old Shamsoddinnezhad is allowed to make just one, one-minute phone call to his relatives once a week. “He just has time to ask how my 17-month-old son and I are doing,” she said. He has not been able to provide any details about the conditions in which he is being held or the way he is treated.
“As an Iranian national, Vahid did not need a visa,” she explained. “He had reported his presence to the authorities in order to work in complete transparency. I hope that the mobilisation of support for him will enable us to know why he was arrested and will lead his release in the near future.”
“It is appalling that an accredited journalist, doing his job according to the rules of his profession, has been arrested and held without any reason being given, in what is yet another extremely serious attack by Tehran on the freedom to report the news. It is with outrage that that RSF relays – and supports – his wife Reyhaneh's appeal. We will remain at her side and alongside his family until Vahid is released.
Graduate of Lille’s journalism school
“Vahid loves journalism and reporting, and likes to cover what is happening,” Reyhaneh added. “In Iran, he started working as a fixer for French journalists, which led him to begin studying journalism at Lille’s journalism school – ESJ Lille.” After completing his course this year, he returned to Iran to cover events in the wake of the death of the young Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini. He was arrested on 28 September in Saqqez, in Iranian Kurdistan.
Colleagues who have worked with Shamsoddinnezhad testify to both his human and professional qualities as a journalist. “Our paths crossed in Tehran while he was working as a fixer for other media outlets,” said Franck Mathevon, the head of international news at Radio France. “We stayed in touch. Vahid is a friendly guy, very open-minded, always ready to help. A calm, serious young journalist, who is keen to be as objective as possible. He is very subtle in his analyses and shows great professionalism.”
“Vahid spent two years at the school, the second year doing practical work and specialising in international journalism, and graduated with a ‘Very Good’ mention,” ESJ Lille director Pierre Savary said. “His seriousness, his rigour and his desire to ‘get to the bottom of things' were noticed by the journalists who are ESJ Lille’s teachers and by the practicing journalists involved in his course. Aside from the obvious professional qualities that were noticed while he was here, he showed undeniable human qualities, altruism and concern for others in the group.”
This assessment is shared by Jacques Aragones, a reporter and producer at StudioFact and TV Presse. “I had the opportunity to host Vahid at TV Presse/StudioFact for a year ending last August as part of his work-study programme with ESJ Lille,” Aragones said. “Throughout the year, he demonstrated great professionalism. He integrated perfectly into the editorial staff and worked with the editors on several investigative stories for FTV, M6 and Arte.”