“We call for the immediate release of journalists held arbitrarily and urge the regime to stop suppressing the freedom to inform,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk. “Obstructing press freedom and arresting journalists do not in any help to combat corruption.”
The latest victim is Massoud Kazami, a former reporter for the daily newspaper Shargh. Plainclothesmen arrested her at her home yesterday, confiscating files and computer storage devices. Her family has not yet been told why he was arrested or where he is being held. He often posts tweets criticizing the situation in Iran and the policies of the different government factions. Her Twitter account has been inaccessible since her arrest.
Saba Azarpeyk, a journalist who used to work for the monthly Tejarat-e-Farda and the daily Etemad, was arrested by ministry of intelligence agents during a raid on her home on 29 October and her accounts on Twitter and the encrypted messaging app Telegram were shut down shortly thereafter.
She had just accused newly appointed labour minister Mohammad Shariatmadari – a former mines and industry minister and commerce minister with a murky intelligence agency background – of corruption and favouritism. Posted on social networks with supporting documents, her accusations came just before a vote of confidence in parliament on 27 October and caused a major stir online and within Iran’s political class.
The deputy minister of intelligence wrote to the parliamentary speaker the same day announcing that he had filed a complaint against Azarpeyk about the posts, but he did not dispute their accuracy. She was freed on bail on 31 October.
After a previous arrest on 28 May 2014, Azarpeyk spent more than 80 days in solitary confinement, until freed pending trial on 20 August 2014 on bail of 200 million toman (190,000 euros).
The crackdown has not spared journalists in the provinces. In Sanandaj, in the province of Kurdistan, freelance journalist Ejlal Ghavami was sentenced to eight months in prison on 16 September on a charge of “publishing false information designed to trouble public opinion.” He had been tried on 20 August after posting three articles on social networks about the situation of prisoners of conscience in Kurdistan province.
Hivanews website editor Kazem Imanzadeh was summoned for questioning by judicial officials in Sanandaj on 6 October after Revolutionary Guards filed a complaint against him making the same accusation, namely, “publishing false information designed to trouble public opinion.” He was released pending a decision by the court.
Iran is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.