07.04.2020 - Journalists still being arrested during pandemic
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns journalist and workers’ rights defender Amir Chamanii’s arrest in the northwestern city of Tabriz on 2 April. His family said he was arrested after being summoned by the FTA, the cyber-police, a day after posting several tweets about the health situation in Iran’s prisons and about protests by inmates in several prisons, including Tabriz prison.
Chamanii was detained without any reason being given to him or his family. A decision to extend his detention was taken on 5 April, when he was transferred to a detention centre run by the intelligence department of the Revolutionary Guards.
Journalists freed, others in great danger
Under a decree issued by the head of the judicial system on 25 February, thousands of prisoners were either freed or granted conditional releases on the occasion of the Iranian New Year. They included a number of journalists and citizen-journalists, among them six people who worked for the Sufi news website, Majzooban Noor – Reza Entesari, Sina Entesari, Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Amir Nouri, Saleholldin Moradi and Massoude Kazemi. Four other Majzooban Noor journalists are still being held. The journalist Hengameh Shahidi has been released provisionally on medical grounds.
The situation of Iran’s detainees has become critical as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic. Several journalists are ill and are being denied medical attention. They included Soheil Arabi, a recipient of the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2017 in the citizen-journalist category, who began a hunger strike on 4 April in protest against his prison conditions. Both he and journalist and human rights defender Narges Mohammadi could die. In a third letter to the head of the judicial system, Mohammadi’s mother writes: “Not only has my daughter’s health worsened yet again but we are also under pressure [from the security forces] to say nothing.”
06.04.2020 - Newspapers banned from being printed
The Covid-19 National Management Office (the government body set up to combat the coronavirus) and the press department of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance have issued a communiqué announcing that “no newspapers will be printed until further notice.” Officially, this is to ensure respect for the government’s social distancing measures, because “the distribution of printed newspapers and magazines requires physical interaction between individuals, journalists, printers and distributers, and this interaction could potentially facilitate the spread of the virus.”
This decision has prolonged the period during the New Year festivities (20 March to 2 April) when the press is traditionally not distributed. The communiqué urged newspapers to “use their capacity to publish online and on social networks in order to reinforce public information and advice about the coronavirus.”
Many journalists, media workers and newspaper editors have protested. In an open letter to the president, Elias Hazrati, the managing editor of the newspaper Etemad and parliamentary representative for the city of Tehran, said “the economic crises affecting newspapers in recent years have resulted in many journalists and media workers being laid off” and he called for “the creation of technical and public health procedures that allow newspapers to continue publishing.” Hazrati himself had to lay off several Etemad journalists last week.
18.03.2020 - l’avocate Nasrin Sotoudeh en grève de la faim dans sa prison
Nasrin Sotoudeh, avocate de plusieurs journalistes et lauréate en 2012 du Prix Sakharov "pour la liberté de l'esprit », a entamé une grève de la faim le 16 mars pour protester contre sa situation et celle des prisonniers politiques dans la prison d’Evin. Elle explique sa décision dans une déclaration « en cette période de crise et d’épidémie de coronavirus, la libération des prisonniers d'opinion, notamment des femmes détenues dans des dortoirs collectifs dans la prison d'Evin, est une nécessité nationale. (…) Du fait que toutes mes demandes de libération des prisonniers sont restées sans réponse, je n'ai pas d'autre choix que la grève de la faim. »
Emprisonnée depuis le 13 juin 2018, Nasrin Sotoudeh a été condamnée par le tribunal de la révolution de Téhéran à 33 ans de prison, dont une peine de sûreté de 12 ans, pour « incitation à la débauche », et à 148 coups de fouet. RSF déjà a exprimé sa grande inquiétude pour la vie des journalistes iraniens emprisonnés, qui sont en grand danger depuis que le coronavirus s'est propagé dans les prisons.
17.03.2020 – Deux journalistes condamnés à trois ans de prison chacun
Les journalistes-citoyens Zoreh Sarve et Sina Monirzadeh ont été condamnés le 11 mars, la 26e chambre du tribunal de la révolution de Téhéran, à une peine de trois ans de prison chacun, et à lire l’interprétation d’une sourate du Coran. Ils devront ensuite collaborer activement avec les milices iraniennes pendant quatre mois. Reporters sans frontières (RSF) proteste fermement contre ces condamnations.
Arrêtés le 23 décembre pendant le mouvement de protestation populaire, les deux journalistes ont été accusés «d’insulte envers le fondateur du régime», de « propagande contre le régime » et de « réunions et de complot contre la sécurité nationale ».
Tous deux étaient très actifs sur les réseaux sociaux. Ils utilisaient des pseudos pour rester anonymes, mais ont été identifiés par la cyberpolice iranienne.
Sina Monirzadeh est détenu à la prison d’Evin, et Zoreh Sarve à la prison pour femmes de Gharchak.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the eight-year prison sentence received by Khosro Sadeghi Borjeni, a writer, journalist and member of the Tehran Association of Independent Journalists. A revolutionary court charged him in July 2018 with “meeting and conspiring against national security,” “insulting the Islamic Republic’s founder,” and anti-government propaganda, mainly for articles criticising economic policy and the living conditions of workers in Iran. Borjeni’s lawyer, who was notified of the sentence on 2 February, has 20 days to file an appeal.
10.02.2020 - Two citizen-journalists freed
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Sepideh Moradi and Shima Entesari, two citizen-journalists who worked for the Sufi independent news website Majzooban Noor, were released on 9 February after serving two-year jail sentences. Arrested in February 2018, the two women were initially given five-year jail terms, which were reduced to two years on appeal.
27.01.2020 – Journalist questioned over allegedly false corruption claims on Twitter
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns freelance journalist Pejman Mousavi’s interrogation by the Tehran prosecutor’s office yesterday for making allegedly false claims on Twitter about corruption in the distribution of newsprint by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Citing official documents, Mousavi said several newspaper owners had been sent more newsprint than they needed and had made sizable illicit profits by selling the surplus newsprint on the black market. Most of the beneficiaries of this system of corruption were pro-government newspapers, he reported. After being interrogated, Mousavi was released conditionally pending another hearing.
23.01.2020 - Three journalists released pending trial
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that the authorities have released three journalists who were arrested during a ceremony in Sowme'eh Sara, in the northern province of Gilan, on 26 December to pay tribute to a demonstrator killed during an anti-government protest the previous month. Jelveh Javaheri, Kaveh Mzadari and Forough Sameinia, who work for online media including Bidarzani (Women’s Awakening), were released on 14 and 16 January pending trial after payment of 100 million toman (27,000 euros) in bail.
A fourth journalist who was arrested with them, Ahmad Zahedi Langroudi, the editor of the provincial monthly GhilanOuja, is still being held in Gilan province’s Ziabar prison because his family was unable to raise the bail money.
17.01.2020 - Hussein Karoubi arrested, father’s house arrest condition’s tightened
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns last weeks’ arrest of Hussein Karoubi, the former executive director of Etemad Meli, a newspapers closed at the behest of the authorities since 2009. Karoubi was arrested when he went to Tehran’s Evin prison on 14 January, a day after ministry of intelligence officials went to his home to arrest him so that he should serve the six-month jail sentence he received from a revolutionary court in March 2017.
Karoubi’s arrest seems to be a reprisal for the publication of an open letter that Karoubi’s father, Etemad Meli owner and former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karoubi, wrote to President Hassan Rouhani on 11 January. A onetime presidential candidate now aged 79, Mehdi Karoubi has been under house arrest for the past nine years. The open letter referred to the admission by the Revolutionary Guards of responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian plane on 8 January, killing all 176 people aboard. Addressing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the letter said: “As supreme commander of the armed forces, you are directly responsible for this disaster (...) You do not fulfil the constitutionally-defined criteria and conditions for being Supreme Leader.”
After the letter’s publication, the authorities tightened Mehdi Karoubi’s house arrest conditions, banning family visits. He was placed under house arrest in February 2011 at the same time as Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister and owner of the now closed newspaper Kalameh Sabaz, and Mousavi’s wife, the writer Zahra Rahnavard. The two former presidential candidates and newspaper owners continue to be deprived of all their rights.