18.05.2018 - Majzooban Noor journalists complete third month in detention
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the appalling way that the Iranian authorities are treating 13 detained journalists and citizen-journalists employed by the independent Sufi news website Majzooban Noor, who will complete their third month of detention this weekend. They continue to be denied their fundamental rights, in violation of Iran’s laws and regulations as well as international law.
The ten men – Reza Entesari, Kasra Nouri, Mostafa Abdi, Saleh Moradi, Sina Entesari, Amir Nouri, Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Abass Dehghan and Poriya Nouri – are being held in Tehran’s Evin prison while the three women – Sepideh Moradi, Avisha Jalaledin and Shima Entesari – are now held in the notorious Gerchak women’s prison. All of them are being denied the right to visits and the right to medical care.
When arrested on the night of 19 February, they were badly beaten by police and plainclothes militiamen and most of them sustained hand or head fractures. According to the information obtained by RSF, they were then badly tortured by police and intelligence officials at Shahpour police station in south Tehran (which is notorious for torturing ordinary detained suspects) and in Section 209 of Evin prison (the section run by the intelligence ministry).
The authorities have just begun to secretly try them before revolutionary courts on charges of “plotting against national security,” “disobeying police orders” and “collaborating with the Majzooban Noor website.” They are not being defended by their lawyers at these trials.
28.02.2018 - Badly injured Majzooban Nor journalists transferred to prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Majzooban Nor news website journalists Reza Entesari and Kasra Nouri were transferred to Greater Tehran Prison on 23 February after recovering consciousness. They were arrested on the night of 19 February along with other contributors to the website including Mostafa Abdi, Avisha Jalaledin, Saleh Moradi, Sina Entesari, Shima Entesari, Amir Nouri, Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, Mohammad Reza Darvishi and Sepideh Moradi. The journalists were badly beaten by police and plainclothes militiamen, as seen in this video, posted by the website’s editor, showing violence being used to arrest members of a Sufi religious order called the Gonabadi Dervishes.
01.02.2018 - Photographer Soheil Arabi badly beaten during prison transfer
Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the physical condition of Soheil Arabi, an imprisoned photographer who was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category last November. After beginning a hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin prison on 25 January, he was transferred to Greater Tehran Prison, on the south side of the capital, four days later.
He reported to his mother on 30 January that he was badly beaten by guards at the time of his transfer. “Thirteen people grabbed me and beat me, but I am continuing my hunger strike,” he said. He began the hunger strike to protest against the transfer of two women political prisoners to a prison for ordinary inmates.
Arabi has been in prison since December 2013. After his arrest, he was mistreated and subjected to solitary confinement for two months to force him to confess to involvement in creating a Facebook network that “blasphemed” Islam and criticized the government. A long judicial saga ensued in which he was initially sentenced to three years in prison, 30 lashes and a heavy fine. A few months later, he was retried and sentenced to death, but the death sentence was eventually overturned and he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison instead.
31.01.2018 - Another citizen-journalist arrested
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Omid Delfani, a citizen-journalist who managed a channel called Bahar e Moghavemat (Springtime of Resistance) on the popular encrypted messaging app Telegram, was arrested in the southwestern city of Khorramabad on 29 January after his home was searched in his absence. There is no official word on the reason for his arrest but Delfani is linked to those who support the controversial former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The authorities have yet to say where he is being held. Delfani is the second citizen-journalist to be arrested in Khorramabad in recent weeks.
24.01.2018 – Two journalists freed
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned with relief that Afarin Chitsaz, a journalist with the daily newspaper Iran, was freed on 22 January on completing a two-year jail term. One of the victims of a wave of arrests in November 2015, she was originally sentenced to ten years in prison in March 2016 on charges of anti-government propaganda, conspiring against officials and insulting officials. But a Tehran appeal court reduced the sentence to two years in prison and a two-year ban on working as a journalist after her release.
RSF has also learned that tech journalist Arash Zad, the editor of the Weblogina and ArashZad.net blogs, was freed on 25 decembre 2017 after being held for more than two years. Revolutionary Guard intelligence operatives arrested him at Tehran international airport on 31 July 2015 as he was about to depart at the end of a visit to Iran. His family chose to say nothing while he was held in Tehran’s Evin prison. He announced his release in a tweet.
23.01.2018 – Arrests of citizen-journalists using Telegram
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the detention of Yousef Hassani Tabar, a citizen-journalist based in in the southwestern city of Khorramabad who edits a news channel called Seh Noghteh (Three Points) on the popular encrypted messaging app Telegram.
Three weeks after being arrested, charged and then freed on bail, Tabar was arrested again at his home by plainclothes members of the Revolutionary Guards and was taken to an unknown location, where he went on hunger strike until he was transferred to Khorramabad’s main prison. Plainclothesmen searched his workplace and his father’s home on 13 January, seizing all the mobile phones of his family and colleagues. The Seh Noghteh channel has announced its closure.
On 8 January, the prosecutor in the southeastern city of Kerman announced the arrests of eight people who edit news channels that use Telegram. RSF is currently verifying all of these cases. According to various sources, around 3,700 people have been arrested since the start of a wave of protest in more than 100 cities throughout Iran. Many citizen-journalists are among those arrested.
16.01.2018 - Telegram accessible again in Iran
The Iranian authorities unblocked access to the encrypted messaging app Telegram on 13 January, two weeks after rendering it inaccessible because its founder, Pavel Durov, refused to shut down all the opposition channels using it during a major wave of anti-government protests. Telegram is very popular in Iran, where it has an estimated 40 million users. By using VPNs, many of them continued to access it during the blocking.
At the same time, the government and above all state radio and TV have tried to promote Iranian apps such as Soroush, a “national” app based on the source code of the French app Linphone that has been approved by the Cyberspace Supreme Council. Created at Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s behest in March 2012 to oversee the Internet, this body is headed by senior politicians and military officers.
The government has also unblocked other apps such as Instagram and WeChat, a Chinese social media app that cooperates closely with the Chinese government. Facebook and Twitter continue to be inaccessible in Iran, and the Internet as a whole continues to suffer frequent disruptions.
10.01.2018 - Four citizen-journalists released
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that four citizen-journalists who work for the pro-Sufi news website Majzooban Nor – Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, Mohammad Reza Sharifi, Faezeh Abdipour and Kasra Nouri – were released provisionally yesterday after pressure from families, friends and supporters, who staged a sit-in outside Tehran’s Evin prison. The four citizen-journalists had been taken to Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons following their arrests by intelligence ministry agents on 31 December.
The families of hundreds of detainees have been gathering outside prisons throughout Iran, including the notorious Evin, because of concern about the fate of their loved-ones.
09.01.2018 - Journalists interrogated in several provinces
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) yet again condemns the persecution of journalists in Iran. Many journalists and citizen-journalists have been summoned and questioned by intelligence ministry officials in Tehran and in the provincial cities of Isfahan, Machhad, Kermanshah and Mahabad. Khosro Kurdpour, the editor of the news website Mokeryan, was summoned twice on 31 December and again yesterday and was interrogated for several hours about his site’s coverage of protests in the western province of Kurdistan. Officials told him that the protests were illegal and that it was therefore illegal for the media to cover them. Kurdpour was already jailed for four years in connection with his journalistic activities, from November 2013 to September 2017.
At least 25 people have been killed and more than 3,700 people, including many citizen-journalists, have been arrested in the wave of protests in cities throughout the country that began on 28 December. According to several sources, at least three young protesters were killed while detained in Arak, Dezful and Tehran’s Evin prison. The regime claims that these detainees “committed suicide.”