The Washington Post said yesterday that it had received “credible reports” that its Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian had been arrested, together with his Iranian journalist wife Yeganeh Salehi.
Rezaian, 38, who has dual US and Iranian nationalities, has been in post in Tehran since 2012. His wife works for the newspaper The National, based in the United Arab Emirates.
Also detained was a female Iranian-American photojournalist, whose identity her family did not wish to disclose. She was reported to work for several news organizations including the Washington Post. Her husband, who is not a journalist, was also arrested.
With 65 journalists and netizens in prison – five of them foreign nationals -- Iran is one of the world’s top five prisons for those working in news and information.
According to information received by Reporters Without Borders, all four were arrested at the same time by plain-clothes police officers at their homes two days ago. No official reason was given for the arrests or on whose authority they were detained, and it was not known where they were being held.
The Iranian government has issued no statement about the arrests. Gholamhossein Esmaili, the head of the Tehran Province Justice Department, said today: “Iranian security forces are vigilant towards all kind of enemies’ activities.”
He added: “We are now in the investigation phase. I think we will be able to provide more information after technical investigation and questioning.”
A US State Department spokesman told the Washington Post yesterday: “Our highest priority is the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad”.
Reza Moïni, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan desk, said: “These journalists are accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and are working legally in Iran”.
He added: “Arbitrary arrests, illegal summonses, for example by intelligence officers of the Revolutionary Guards, are a daily reality for journalists in Iran. Media workers, particularly foreign journalists based in Tehran, are most often accused of spying. They are the victims of a policy of demonizing the foreign media, which is aggravated by the settling of scores among different groups engaged in a power struggle.”