News

October 14, 2020

Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2020


14.10.2020 - Three women journalists arrested

 Although journalist and human rights defender Narges Mohammadi was released on 8 October after serving more than eight years of her prison sentence, women journalists and citizen-journalists continue to be jailed arbitrarily in Iran, where three have just been detained in the space of a week.

 

After being summoned by the Sentence Executive Bureau of Tehran’s Evin prison, photojournalist Alieh Motalebzadeh was returned to prison on 11 October to begin serving a three-year prison sentence on a charge of “meeting and conspiring against national security.” Motalebzadeh, who is also a women’s rights activist and vice-president of Iran’s Association for the Defence of Press Freedom, received the sentence from a Tehran revolutionary court in August 2017 and was notified in October 2019 that an appeal court had confirmed it. Originally arrested in November2016, she was freed on bail of 300 million toman (270,000 euros) the following month pending trial.

 

Also on 11 October, student and citizen-journalist Roghieh (Ashraf) Nafari was returned to prison to serve a three-month sentence on a charge of “anti-government propaganda” for tweets that were rendered inaccessible after security police arrested her on 26 March. A Tehran revolutionary court originally gave her a four-month sentence, but it was reduced to three months on appeal.

 

Shabnam Ashaouri, the editor of Aghahinameh, an economic bi-monthly specializing in the working class, was arrested at her home on 4 October by Revolutionary Guard intelligence officers in plain-clothes after they searched her home. At least six other workers’ rights activists were arrested the same day, since when their families have been told nothing about the reason for their arrests or where they are being held.

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01.10.2020 – Three members of the Association of Iranian Writers jailed

 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its condemnation of the judicial harassment and arrests of Iranian writers and journalists, after three members of the Association of Iranian Writers, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Kayvan Bagen, were returned to prison on 26 September to serve sentences ranging from three and half to six years in jail.

These three writers and journalists were sentenced by a Tehran revolutionary court in May 2019 on charges of anti-government propaganda and illegally publishing an online newspaper on Facebook. Although confirmed by a Tehran appeal court, the sentences were suspended for four months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement delivered outside Evin prison, the three writers and journalists said they were the victims of “false accusations” and had been convicted because they “fought against the censors and for freedom of expression.” The Association of Iranian Writers is Iran’s oldest civil society organization. Its activities were banned under the Shah and again under the Islamic Revolution. Two of its leaders, the writers and journalists Mohamad Makhtari and Mohamad Jafar Pouyandeh, were murdered in 1998.

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28.09.2020 - Soheil Arabi moved, placed in solitary, for denouncing prison conditions

Soheil Arabi, an imprisoned journalist who was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2017, has been severely punished for describing the appalling conditions in Greater Tehran Prison in a secretly recorded audio message broadcast by Voice of America’s Persian-language service on 11 September. As well as reporting the existence of a torture chamber in the prison, Arabi said hygiene was so bad that the food and water was not fit for human consumption, with the result that detainees had to pay to get edible food and disinfected water.

 

A week later, on 18 September, Arabi was taken to the prison director’s office, where he was interrogated and was told that, in reprisal for the recording, “we are going to send you to an even worse place than this one.” According to his imprisoned mother, Farangis Mazloom, who was herself sentenced to six years in prison on 14 July for “meeting and conspiring against national security” and “anti-government propaganda,” he has been transferred to Rajai-Shahr prison and has been placed in solitary confinement there. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has already condemned the judicial persecution of Arabi and the way the Iranian authorities harass the families of journalists.

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15.09.2020 – Member of independent journalists’ group jailed

 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns independent journalist Khosro Sadeghi Borjeni’s arrest on 16 August and transfer to Evin prison on 9 September. A member of the Tehran Association of Independent Journalists, Borjeni was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison by a revolutionary court on 2 February on charges of “insulting the Islamic Republic’s founder,” “anti-government propaganda” and “meeting and conspiring against national and international security.” This was reduced to a total of seven years in prison on appeal in Tehran on 13 June. Under article 134 of the new Islamic Penal Code, according to which someone given several sentences serves only the main one, Borjeni will “only” serve a five-year sentence. He was arrested while travelling in the north-east of the country.

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26.08.2020 - Three journalists get prison sentences

Mostafa Moheb Kia, a journalist with the monthly Iran Farda, was sentenced to six months and one day in prison on 10 August for “anti-government propaganda” and “meeting and plotting against national security.” He received the sentence two weeks after an appeal court, on 27 July, confirmed the three-year jail sentence that Iran Farda editor Kayvan Samimi Behbahani received from a Tehran revolutionary court on 13 June. A distinguished 72-year-old journalist, Behbahani was summoned to begin serving this sentence on 24 August.

Arrested during a May Day demonstration organized by independent labour unions outside the Iranian parliament in 2019, Behbahani was released on bail seven weeks later. After a previous arrest in June 2009, he was sentenced in February 2010 to six years in prison on charges of “publishing false information with the aim of confusing public opinion” and “activities against national security.” He was finally released in May 2015.

 

Nader Fatourehchi, a freelance journalist who waged several campaigns against high-level corruption in the government and state agencies, reported on Twitter on 18 August that he has been sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for three years, on a charge of “stirring up public opinion against government institutions, officials and organizations.” Because they remain as a constant threat, suspended prison sentences are used as way to censor journalists.

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23.07.2020 – Journalist acquitted and released

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Abdol Reza Davari, a journalist who was former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s press adviser, was freed after a Tehran revolutionary court acquitted him of collaborating with AmadNews Telegram channel and website editor Rouhollah Zam, who was sentenced to death on 14 July. Davari had been held for a total of 135 days. Active on social media, he was first detained from May 2017 to September 2018, serving 15 months of a three-year jail sentence for “insulting” the Supreme Leader until it was overturned by the supreme court. He was arrested again in November 2019, a few hours after posting a tweet about the massive protests in Iran.

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29.06.2020 - One-year jail term for editor of cultural weekly

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the one-year prison sentence that a court in the northeastern province of Razavi Khorasan has passed on Ali Razaghi Bahar, the editor of the cultural weekly Barssava. As a result of a complaint by the Press Licensing and Surveillance Commission, the censorship arm of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, he was convicted of failing in his “supervisory responsibility” by publishing an article “promoting sexual freedom and alcohol consumption.” According to Bahar, who also edits magazines published by the Hamshahri group (owned by Tehran city hall), the commission never summoned him to hear his explanation.

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17.06.2020 - Three journalists get jail terms ranging from 91 days to 7 years

 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the systematic imposition of harsh jail sentences on journalists in Iran. Of the three latest victims, the longest sentence was given to Khosro Sadeghi Borjeni, a member of the Tehran Association of Independent Journalists, who was sentenced to a total of seven years in prison on appeal in Tehran on 13 June. A revolutionary court had sentenced him to a total of eight years in prison on 2 February for “insulting the Islamic Republic’s founder,” “anti-government propaganda” and “meeting and conspiring against national security.” Under article 134 of the new Islamic Penal Code, according to which someone given several sentences serves only the main one, Borjeni will “only” serve a five-year sentence.

  

 

Sharam Safari, the editor of a Telegram news channel called Rvejpress, was sentenced to 91 days in prison on 15 June by a court in the western city of Kermanshah, which tried him on charges of “publishing false information,” “defaming the clergy and the Koranic School of the Holy City of Qom” and “publishing figures for Covid-19 infections.” Qom was the site of one of the first Covid-19 outbreaks in Iran. Safari had been released on bail after being summoned by the Kermanshah police in late March in response to a complaint by the University of Medical Sciences over his publication of unofficial Covid-19 figures.

  

 

RSF has also learned that a Tehran revolutionary court sentenced Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, the editor of the monthly Iran Farda, to three years in prison on 13 June. Arrested during a May Day demonstration organized by independent labour unions outside the Iranian parliament on 1 May 2019, this distinguished journalist was released on bail seven weeks later. After a previous arrest in June 2009, Behbahani was sentenced in February 2010 to six years in prison on charges of “publishing false information with the aim of confusing public opinion” and “activities against national security.” He was finally released in May 2015.

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02.06.2020 - Journalist freed on bail, three others receive court summons

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Amir Chamani, a journalist and workers’ rights defender who was arrested in the northwestern city of Tabriz on 2 April, was released on bail of 200 million toman (54,000 euros) on 19 May pending trial. He was arrested after being summoned by the FATA, the cyber-police, over several tweets about the health situation in Iran’s prisons and about protests by inmates in several prisons, including Tabriz prison. His computer and mobile phone were confiscated and his social media accounts have been blocked.

 

RSF has also learned that Jelveh Javaheri, Kaveh Mzadari and Forough Sameinia, three journalists who were arrested in the northern province of Gilan on 26 December and were bailed three weeks later, were summoned before a court in Rasht, the province’s largest city, on 16 May. The three journalists, who work for various online news media including Bidarzani (Women’s Awakening), were arrested during a ceremony held in Sowme'eh Sara, in Gilan province, to pay tribute to a demonstrator killed during an anti-government protest in November. They were released on bail of 100 million toman (27,000 euros) on 14 and 16 January pending trial.


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14.05.2020 - A journalist jailed, an already jailed journalist hospitalized

The Iranian authorities continue to jail journalists although Covid-19 is taking a heavy toll on the country's prison population. Hassan Fathi, a 64-year-old journalist and documentary film maker, was taken to Tehran's Evin prison on 7 May to serve an 18-month sentence for "confusing public opinion by spreading false information" in an interview for BBC Persian in 2011. His sentence was finally confirmed on appeal by a Tehran court. He was previously arrested twice over the same interview, first in 2011 and then in 2018.    


Mahmud Shariari, a former national radio and TV presenter detained since 14 April for "publishing false information about the coronavirus," was transferred on 7 May from Evin prison to a section in Tehran's Madaien Hospital that is reserved for coronavirus patients, his family says.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its deep concern about the fate of imprisoned journalists in Iran, who have routinely been denied adequate medical care in the past and who are now in danger of dying from the coronavirus that is spreading in the prisons.

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27.04.2020 – Journalist held for insulting Ali Khamenei

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arrests of Masoud Heydari, the news director of the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), and Hamid Haghjoo, the manager of its Telegram channel. They were arrested in Tehran on 24 April for “insulting Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei” in a cartoon published on ILNA’s Telegram channel. Heydari was released but Haghjoo is still being held.

 

The cartoon showed a patient with two traditional healers. One wants to administer violet oil to him rectally. The other wants him to drink camel’s urine. In a photo on the wall in the centre, a mullah dressed as a doctor who resembles Ali Khamenei signals to him to say nothing. Prescribed in Islamic books, these two traditional remedies were recently proposed as cures for coronavirus patients. The ILNA issued a statement denying that it published the cartoon.

 

RSF has also learned that the writer and art critic Hamid Namjoo has been sentenced to a year in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” in writings published abroad, including on the website of Radio Zamaneh, a Persian-language radio station based in Amsterdam. He is the brother of a well-known Iranian singer who lives in New York.

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22.04.2020 – Well-known journalist sentenced in absentia to five years in prison

 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the five-year prison sentenced that Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, the editor of the Iran Farda monthly, received in absentia from a Tehran revolutionary court on 20 April. Behbahani announced on his Telegram channel that he had discovered, “on the judicial institution’s news website that I was sentenced to five years in prison without being present in the court.” He also discovered that he was convicted as Iran Farda editor, for advocating in writing and in speeches for the release of prisoners of conscience, and for having created a political party 22 years ago, although the party never saw  the light of day.

  

A leading Iranian journalist, Samimi Behbahani was arrested during a demonstration organized by independent labour unions outside the Iranian parliament on 1 May 2019 and was released on bail on 17 June 2019 pending trial. After a previous arrest in June 2009, Behbahani was sentenced in February 2010 to six years in prison on charges of “publishing false information with the aim of confusing public opinion” and “activities against national security.” He was finally released in May 2015.

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15.04.2020 - Journalists arrested over coronavirus epidemic coverage

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Iranian regime’s persecution of journalists and citizen-journalists who have published information about the coronavirus epidemic that lacked official approval.

   

The latest victim is Mahmud Shariari, a former national radio and TV presenter now very active on social media. He was arrested by intelligence ministry officials in Tehran on 14 April on a charge “publishing false information about the coronavirus” after he posted a video seen by hundreds of thousands of Iranians that referred to a cover-up of information about the spread of the virus in early March. His criticism of the handling of the health crisis and the lockdown has clearly annoyed the authorities, who have not said where he is being held.

  

Hadi Meharani, an activist and invalid from the 1980-88 war with Iraq who runs a Telegram news channel and edits a Twitter account entitled “Reformist Invalids,” was arrested at his home on 11 April. He is accused of “insulting religious officials and religious belief” for posting information about the spread of the coronavirus and criticizing the information provided by state radio and TV. He is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison, where he was transferred to the infirmary on 15 April.

  

Saide Ahmadi, who runs the Shareh Kam pavaeh news channel in Paveh, a town in the western province of KKurdistan, was arrested on 3 April on a charge of “publishing false information about the coronavirus” for posting unofficial estimates of the number of cases and deaths. His family still does not know where he is being held.

   

Two other journalists, one in the northeastern province of Golestan and the other in Kermanshah province, are being prosecuted for publishing allegedly false information about the coronavirus epidemic but have not been detained. One is Elaheh Ramezanpour, a journalist with the Hamshari daily newspaper, who is the target of two lawsuits by the University of Medical Sciences in Golestan province. The other is Sharam Safari, who edits a Telegram news channel called Arvejpress. He was released on bail of 60 million toman after being summoned by prosecutors.

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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.

 

as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic. Several journalists are ill and are being denied medical attention. They included >span class="redactor-unlink">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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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11.02.2020 – Journalist sentenced to eight years in prison

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 



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Press freedom violations recounted in real time January (January -December 2019)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time January (January -December 2018)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January -December 2017)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January -December 2016)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January -December 2015)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time ( January-December 2014)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time ( January-December 2013)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January-December 2012)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January-December 2011)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (July-December 2010)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January-July 2010)

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Press freedom violations recounted in real time (June-December 2009)