News

June 29, 2018

More harassment of journalists and citizen-journalists in Iran

Téhéran © AFP
Reporters Without Borders condemns the police violence and arbitrary arrests to which citizen-journalists have been subjected during this week’s protests in Tehran. RSF also condemns the latest arrest of journalist and blogger Hengameh Shahidi and the continued detention of Mohammad Hossien Hidari, a journalist held illegally for the past two months.

Several citizen-journalists were badly beaten by police and some were arrested while trying to film the demonstrations in Tehran on 25 and 26 June and the accompanying police violence. The demonstrators were protesting against the national currency’s devaluation and cost of living hikes.

 

Speaking on BBC Persian, one of the citizen-journalists said: “I was filming the demonstration with my sister when riot police approached me. They wanted to confiscate my phone but I resisted. One of them hit me with his baton and I fell. People began gathering around us and the police left.” As the national and international media are banned from covering demonstrations, most of the videos and photos of this week’s protests that are available on social networks were shot by citizen-journalists, who are being deliberately targeted by the police. 

As is usually the case during major street protests, Internet access is being disrupted and connection speeds have been reduced to make it harder to upload video and circulate information about the protests.

 

Hengameh Shahidi’s arrest confirmed

 The Tehran prosecutor-general has confirmed Hengameh Shahidi’s arrest, accusing her of fleeing to Kish Island in the south of the country. This is denied by her family, who say she was arrested as she left the hospital where she had been treated for a heart ailment  On 15 May, a few days after posting several tweets about her time in detention last year, Shahidi reported on Twitter that she had been summoned by the Tehran prosecutor’s office for culture and media for “insulting the head of the judicial system.”

 

The editor of the Paineveste blog, Shahidi was first arrested on 9 March 2017. Although very ill, she went on several hunger strikes in protest against her detention and against the conditions in which she was held, and was finally released on 29 August 2017.

 

Mohammad Hossien Hidari, the editor of Dolat e Bahar, a news website linked to the political current that supports controversial former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has meanwhile been held since 22 May.  His family and lawyer still do not know what he is charged with. His website has been inaccessible since his arrest. He was previously arrested on 21 November 2017 after being summoned to the Tehran prosecutor’s office for culture and media, and was released pending trial after paying 100 million toman (about 90,000 euros) in bail.

 

Iran is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.