Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January -December 2016)
30.12.2016 – Magazine editor freed after two days
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Davood Dashtbani, the editor of the monthly Vatanyoli, was freed on 28 December, two days after being arrested on a Tehran street. “I was arrested on the street on Monday morning on the orders of a court,” he told the media. “Apparently the intelligence services had received false information about me. I was interrogated and my explanation put an end to the confusion.” He said his arrest was not linked to his journalistic activities.
28.12.2016 - Four journalists arrested in past 11 days
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the continuing persecution of journalists in Iran, where four more have been arrested in the capital and the southwestern city of Abadan in the past 11 days.
Borna News social affairs editor Tahereh Riahai was arrested at her Tehran home on 27 December by plainclothesmen from the Revolutionary Guards intelligence services, who searched her home and then took her away. There has been no official statement about her arrest or place of detention.
Davood Dashtbani, the editor of the monthly Vatanyoli (Voice of the Fatherland), went missing on 26 December and was able to make a brief call to his wife the next day to let her know he had been arrested.
Arash Ghaleh Golab, who works for various Khuzestan province media outlets, was arrested on the orders of a revolutionary tribunal in Abadan on 21 December for collaborating with a journalist abroad. Khuzestan province has seen a recent wave of arrests of intellectuals and journalists.
Ministry of intelligence officials arrested the journalist Hassain Moussavi and the poet Raouf Delfi at their home in Abadan on 17 December. It is not known where they were taken and their families have received no news of them since their arrest. Moussavi has worked with several Khuzestan province media outlets including the weekly Yadegar.
Both Moussavi and Delfi recently criticized the security climate in Abadan and the fact that the police had prevented the holding of a ceremony in Tehran on 2 December to mark the autumn 1998 murders of many intellectuals and journalists who defended free speech.
Previously, Rahil Moussavi, a young woman photographer, was arrested in the southern city of Khorramshahr on 8 December after covering a gathering of environmentalists who are concerned about the River Karun.
A total of 29 journalists and citizen journalists are now detained in Iran, which is one of the world’s five biggest prisons for media personnel.
20.12.2016 - Woman photographer arrested, another freed on bail
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Rahil Moussavi, a young photojournalist, was arrested in the southern city of Khorramshahr on 8 December after covering a gathering of environmentalists who are concerned about the River Karun. She was injured at the time of her arrest when plainclothes police officers tried to grab her camera. Her family has received no news of her since then.
RSF has also learned that Alieh Motalebzadeh, a photojournalist and women’s rights activists, was freed on bail of 300 million toman (270,000 euros) on 19 December pending trial. She had been arrested on 26 November.
02.12.2016 - Filmmaker back in prison, facing 223 lashes
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns documentary filmmaker Kaivan Karimi’s re-arrest last week to being serving a one-year jail sentence in connection with his filmmaking. He is also sentenced to 223 lashes.
Karimi was first arrested by Revolutionary Guards on 14 December 2013 and spent two days Tehran’s Evin prison before being freed on bail. A court sentenced him on 9 October 2015 to six years in prison and 223 lashes on a charge of insulting Islam for making a documentary about graffiti and a video for a singer who lives abroad. He was also convicted of “immoral relations” for greeting a woman with a kiss and a handshake.
In March 2016, a Tehran appeal court reduced his sentence to one year in prison and four years suspended. But it maintained the 223 lashes and a fine of 2 million toman (2,000 euros). Iran has yet to ratify the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.
RSF has also learned that Yashar Soltani, the editor of the Memarinews.com online newspaper, was freed provisionally on 12 November. He was summoned and jailed by the culture and media court on 17 September, a few days after posting documents on his website revealing details of the Tehran city hall’s sale of land and apartments to senior government officials and members of the municipal council.
30.11.2016 - Iranian TV reporter killed in Aleppo
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is saddened to learn that Mohsen Khazai, a reporter with state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) for the past 20 years, was killed by a shell in Magnan, a western suburb of the Syrian city ofAleppo, on 12 November. His cameraman, Tamer Sandough, was wounded by theblast but his injuries are not life-threatening. Aged 44 and the father of threechildren, Khazai had been covering the fighting in Syria for the past three years andwas embedded with pro-Assad Iranian fighters.
28.11.2016 – Photojournalist arrested in Tehran
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns photojournalist and women rights activist Alieh Motalebzadeh’s arrest in Tehran. A contributor to the website of the “One Million Signatures” campaign for the repeal of laws that discriminate against women, she was arrested on 26 November after being summoned and interrogated twice at the intelligence ministry, her husband Sadra Abdollahi said.
“Plainclothesmen from the intelligence ministry came to the house on 18 October to carry out a search without a warrant,” he said yesterday. “They took away all the identity documents and bank cards, including mine and our daughter’s. Alieh was summoned to the ministry a week later.”
After the first interrogation, she wrote to the intelligence ministry objecting to the fact that she had been questioned for six hours. As a result of this letter, she was able to recover some of the confiscated documents. “Yesterday, she responded to an official summons to go and recover the rest of her possessions,” Abdollahi added. “But she called her family in the evening to say she had been detained in Evin prison.”
According to the information obtained by RSF, Motalebzadeh and several other women’s rights activitists were summoned and interrogated illegally by intelligence ministry officials after returning from a trip abroad during which they participated in a meeting on women’s rights.
Before this latest wave of harassment, other women’s rights activists, including several journalists, had been summoned and questioned since March. Homa Hoodfar, a university academic with French and Canadian dual nationality, was arrested and charged with spying. After being held for 112 days, she was freed “for humanitarian reasons” – the first time that such grounds were given for the release of a female detainee in Iran.
10.10.2016 - Two journalists released provisionally
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that two journalists, Sadra Mohghgh and Ehssan Mazndarani, have been released provisionally in the past eight days. Mohghgh, who is responsible for coverage of social issues at the daily newspaper Shargh, was freed on bail on 2 October pending trial. He had been arrested on 19 September.
Mazndarani, the editor of the newspaper Farhikhteghan, was released provisionally yesterday so that he could be hospitalized, because his health has worsened as result of being on hunger strike for 18 days. One of several journalists arrested on 2 November 2015, he was given a seven-year jail sentence that was reduced on appeal to two years. His lawyer said he should be granted a proper conditional release.
Two other victims of the November 2015 wave of arrests who are still detained, Issa Saharkhiz, the former editor of several reformist newspapers, and Afarin Chitsaz, a journalist with the newspaper Iran, are both ill and are being denied the treatment they need. A week ago, Saharkhiz began his second hunger strike in less than six month in protest against his arrest and continuing detention. He has been in a Tehran hospital since 10 March.
28.09.2016 - Journalist sentenced to seven months in prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is outraged to learn that Souroush Farhadian, a contributor to several pro-reform newspapers and editor of the bimonthly Ro Beh Ro (Opposite), was sentenced on 23 September to seven months in prison. He has appealed against his conviction.
Farhadian was summoned and arrested by prosecutors in the central city of Arak on 15 May as a result of a complaint by “a military entity” and was then released on bail after being charged with anti-government publicity and “activities threatening national security.”
His lawyer said he was secretly tried in connection with articles denouncing the illegality of the detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister and owner of the now closed newspaper Kalameh Sabaz, Zahra Rahnavard, who is a writer and Mousavi’s wife, and Mehdi Karoubi, owner of the now closed newspaper Etemad Melli. Mousavi and Karoubi, who are both also former presidential candidates, have been under house arrest and deprived of all their rights since February 2011. Their state of health is a source of great concern.
02.09.2016 – Website closed after revelations about Tehran city hall corruption
The Committee for Determining Content that Constitutes Internet Crime, which is headed by prosecutor-general, ordered the closure of the Memarinews website yesterday, after it published documents about the Tehran city hall’s sale of city-owned land and apartments to senior officials and municipal council members. Published on 29 August, the documents included letters from the Government Accounting Office criticizing disparities between the sale price and real value of the properties.
Several leading figures, including Tehran mayor (and former Revolutionary Guard commander) Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and municipal council president Mehdi Chameran, filed a complaint against Memarinews on the same day that the documents were published. It accused the site of defamation and publishing false information.
Memarinews editor Yashar Soltani was summoned before the culture and media court just hours after the revelations. Then, in an open letter to the prosecutor-general yesterday, the mayor requested “a more thorough investigation into the published revelations, used by enemy media within Iran and abroad.” He also requested a severe punishment for those responsible the corruption, if any corruption is proved, or otherwise for those responsible for publishing the lies. The decision ordering the website closed until further notice was issued later yesterday.
29.08.2016 – Legislator punches newspaper reporter
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that Ehssan Bodaghi, a reporter for the newspaper Iran, was assaulted in a corridor of the Iranian parliament yesterday by Nader Ghazipour, a hardline parliamentarian from Orumiyeh, the capital of West Azerbaijan province.
When Bodaghi started to ask Ghazipour about the creation of a group of Azeri-speaking parliamentarians, Ghazipour reacted by punching him several times in the face and then dragged him to the office of the parliament’s security service. Security officers released Bodaghi an hour later after deleting his audio recordings and making him sign an undertaking “not to start fights.” Witnesses of the incident nonetheless said Bodaghi had just put questions to Ghazipour, who responded by accusing him of being “one of the reformers who are against Islam.”
Ghazipour has a history of violence. During the last parliamentary elections in February, he told a meeting: “Parliament is not a place for women. It is a place for men (...) We did not easily win [this revolution] and get control of the country in order to now send foxes, children or little donkeys to parliament. Parliament is not a place for donkeys.”
When a video of him making these comments was posted on social networks, it prompted an outcry and calls for him to be declared ineligible. Although he subsequently apologized to the women of Orumiyeh on his Instagram account, he threatened those who had “spied, recorded and posted the video.” A few days later, Aina News director Hamed Atai and the journalist who had distributed the video were attacked on a street in Orumiyeh by Ghazipour supporters.
22.08.2016 - Court upholds decision to flog blogger
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that an appeal court in the city of Saveh, in central Iran, has upheld a lower court’s decision that the Saveh-based journalist and blogger Mohammad Reza Fathi should be flogged because of his posts about city officials.
Under the original ruling handed down on 13 April, Fathi was sentenced to 444 lashes (to be administered in six sessions of 74 lashes) on charges of defamation and publishing false information. In its 12 July ruling, the appeal court confirmed the decision to flog Fathi but modified the sentence. It sentenced him to three sessions of 77 lashes for defamation and three sessions of 76 lashes for publishing false information – for an increased total of 459 lashes.
But the appeal court added that only the second sentence (three sessions of 76 lashes) will be administered in accordance with article 134 of the new Islamic penal code (as amended in 2013), which says that when a defendant is given more than one sentence on criminal charges, only the sentence corresponding to the gravest charge is implemented.
RSF again calls on the judicial authorities to overturn this sentence, which is inhumane and medieval, and contrary to international law.
Read the entry of 30.06.2016 - Iranian blogger sentenced to 444 lashes
16.08.2016 - Journalist gets three years, another trial pending
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is outraged to learn that Issa Saharkhiz, a well-known independent journalist who edited several reformist newspapers, wassentenced to a total of three years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court on 9 August.
His lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh-Tabatabaie, said Saharkhiz was given two years on a charge of anti-government propaganda and one year for “insulting Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Revolution’s Supreme Leader.” Two other pending charges against Saharkhiz – publishing false news and insulting the head of the judicial system – are to be tried separately as political crimes before a court of assizes, the lawyer added.
Saharkhiz was one of several journalists who were arrested on 2 November 2015. He has been in a Tehran hospital since 10 March after suffering a heart attack and going on hunger strike.
Often proposed since the 1979 revolution, the controversial law on political crimes was finally adopted by the Iranian parliament in May. This law violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which Iran has signed) and other international norms.
18.07.2016 – Narges Mohammadi ends hunger strike
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved that imprisoned journalist and human rights defender Narges Mohammadi abandoned her hunger strike on 16 July after being able to talk by phone with her two children, who now live with their father in Paris. RSF is pleased that the judicial authorities allowed this but points out that she should not be in prison, especially as she is in very poor health.
RSF was also pleased to learn that Afarin Chitsaz, a journalist held since a wave of arrests on 2 November 2015 , was released on bail of 1 billion toman (720,000 euros) on 5 July pending a decision on his appeal. Two other journalists who were arrested the same day, Ehssan Mazndarani and Saman Safarzai, were each granted three days’ furlough on 5 July. Mazndarani had been hospitalized with pulmonary problems after being on hunger strike for more than three weeks.
08.07.2016 – Narges Mohammadi on 12th day of hunger strike
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about the conditions in which journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi is being detained. She has been on hunger strike since 27 June in protest against her treatment and, in particular, a ban on contacting her husband and children, who live in exile in France. Her state of health is very worrying. “She is continuing her hunger strike although she has to take several medicines every day and has been the victim of convulsions in her cell twice,” her husband, Taghi Rahmani, said.
A spokesperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (which has been arbitrarily banned in Iran since 2006) and a close aide of Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Mohammadi has had many spells in prison in connection with her human rights activism. Her current period in detention began when she was arrested on 5 May 2015. She was given a 10-year jail sentence on 18 May 2016.
At an event that RSF organized at the Théâtre du Rond Point in Paris on 2 May 2016, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo awarded the City of Paris medal to four journalists proposed by RSF. One of them was Mohammadi, who sent a poignant message to the event from her Tehran cell. Her health is in danger but she is being denied the medical treatment she needs. In October 2015, she was taken from prison to a Tehran hospital, where she spent ten days handcuffed to a bed before being returned to prison against medical advice.
30.06.2016 - Iranian blogger sentenced to 444 lashes
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is outraged by the sentence of 444 lashes that a court in the city of Saveh, in central Iran, imposed on Mohammad Reza Fathi, a journalist and blogger, on 9 June. The sentence is to be implemented in six sessions of 74 lashes. Fathi has filed an appeal. RSF urges the judicial authorities to overturn the sentence, which is inhumane and medieval, and contrary to international law.
The sentence is the outcome of three complaints filed by local officials, including a legislator, a deputy mayor and 11 members of the Saveh municipal council, about articles critical of the municipal government and local officials that Fathi posted anonymously on his blog, called Radio Saveh (http://www.pooria6.blogfa.com/). Arrested by members of the FTA (Iran’s cyber-police) on 5 August 2012, he was released on bail 13 days later pending trial on a charge of “publishing false information with the aim of upsetting public opinion.” The trial finally began on 13 April 2015 and concluded with the announcement of the sentence three weeks ago.
A number of media outlets and prominent figures have protested against the sentence, some of them in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani. Defending the sentence at a news conference, judicial authority provincial director Ghasem Abdolalhi said flogging was sometimes preferable to imprisonment “because only the culprit feels the consequences, while a jail term also affects the family” and because this form of punishment also satisfied the culprit’s victims more. He also pointed out that the sentence could be reduced to a fine on appeal.
Fathi was previously arrested in 2005 in connection with his posts in an earlier blog, Savehjam (http://www.savehjam.blogspot.com), criticizing the provincial governor and Saveh’s mayor, and a letter he wrote to then President Mohammad Khatami lamenting “the limited ability of officials to accept criticism.” After the release of the letter, he was questioned by members of the Edareh Amaken, Iran’s vice squad, on 26 March 2005. Nine days later, members of the local police arrested him on the street and held him for three days. Under pressure from the authorities, he finally closed his blog, which had been very popular in his region.
22.06.2016 - Jail terms for former Iran CEO and three journalists
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the 91-day jail sentences passed on 18 June on Ali Akbar Javanfekr, former CEO of the Iran media group and onetime adviser to controversial former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and three former journalists with the group’s pro-government daily Iran, Abdolreza Soltani, Said Yousefipour and Hassan Ghassemi.
The pro-Ahmadinejad website Dolat Bahar said a special court for government employees convicted them on 19 May of an “act of rebellion against government agents.” Their lawyers have appealed.
They were convicted in connection with the events that took place on 21 November 2011, as Javanfekr was holding a news conference at Iran’s headquarters to protest against the one-year jail sentence and three-year ban on working as a journalist that a court had given him the day before. Tehran prosecutor’s office representatives and police carried a particularly violent raid on the newspaper during the press conference, arresting Javanfekr and using teargas on the Iran journalists who were there to support him.
21.06.2016 – Reformist daily Ghanoon suspended
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi’s decision yesterday to suspend the reformist daily Ghanoon with immediate effect in response to a complaint by the Revolutionary Guards accusing it of defamation and “publishing false information with the aim of upsetting public opinion.” The newspaper’s name means “The Law” in Persian.
Dolatabadi said the decision was taken under article 114 of the code of criminal procedure, which provides for immediate measures for the “prevention of crime.” He did not say what prompted the complaint but Ghanoon often publishes articles critical of the conservative factions that support the Supreme Leader and have the judicial system’s support.
A Ghanoon article dated 25 May and headlined “The latest change: ministry of intelligence 2” criticized a bill that was approved on the last day of the latest session of parliament, on 25 May. It granted full powers to the Revolutionary Guard intelligence agency, which operates independently of the ministry of intelligence.
16 June 2016 - Conservative website closed, reformist editor prosecuted
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its condemnation of government harassment of print and online media outlets following the closure of a conservative news website and the start of judicial proceedings against the editor of a reformist newspaper.
The Committee for Press Authorization and Surveillance, the censorship wing of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, closed the conservative Jahannews website on 15 June under paragraph 11 of article 6 of the press code, which bans “spreading rumours and false information and misusing content written by others.” The committee did not say which content had caused offence.
The site often posts stories critical of the government. In recent months, it posted information about the visits to Iran by Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike in May, and revealed the content of a letter from European Union foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini to the Iranian foreign minister about problems implementing the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. It also revealed information about the dismissal of a member of the Rouhani administration. According to Iranian media reports, both the foreign ministry and the president’s office have filed complaints against Jahannews.
The reformist daily Ghanon was the victim of a complaint by the prison administration accusing it of publishing false information. On 14 June, the Tehran public prosecutor confirmed that Ghanon editor Mahnaz Mazaheri would be prosecuted over an 11 June article headlined “24 cursed hours” about the mistreatment and injuries that a detainee received in the course of a 24-hour period in a prison in the southern part of the capital.
Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan, was meanwhile questioned by the prosecutor’s office for culture and media on 15 June about complaints filed by various government bodies accusing it of publishing false and libellous information. A former interrogator at Tehran’s Evin prison, Shariatmadari was appointed as Kayhan’s editor by Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei in the early 1990s.
15.06.2016 – Five Internet activists freed conditionally
Reporters Without Borders is pleased to learn that five Internet activists who had been held for the past three years – Amir Gholestani, Fariborz Kardarfar, Masoud Ghasemkhani, Seyyed Masoud Seyyed Talebi and Amin (Faride) Akramipour – were granted conditional releases on 13 June.
Gholestani had been due to serve another 12 years in prison, Kardarfar another 10, Ghasemkhani another eight, and Talebi and Akramipour another four. All of them also have suspended sentence of five years prison. This means they will be under judicial control for the next five years and will have to report to a police station every month.
Revolutionary Guards arrested them and three others in September 2013 because of their activities on social networks, above all their Facebook posts about human rights abuses. After being placed in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin prison and subjected to a great deal of pressure, the eight defendants were sentenced to a combined total of 123 years in prison on 27 May 2014 on charges of anti-government propaganda, “insulting what is sacred” and “insulting the Supreme Leader of the Revolution.”
An appeal court reduced the sentences significantly in April 2015. Two of the other three activists, Naghmeh Shahi Savandi Shirazi and Mehdi Reyshahri, were released in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The third, Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, is still held.
14 June 2016 – Kabodvand paroled but Mazndarani back in his cell
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that imprisoned journalist Mohammad Sedegh Kabodvand ended his hunger strike on 9 June after being acquitted of the new charges brought against him and welcomes the decision by the judicial authorities to grant him four days of medical parole, which began on 12 June.
RSF nonetheless points out that Kabodvand should have already been released under article 134 of the new Islamic penal code (as amended in 2013), which recommends that a defendant convicted on more than one criminal charge should serve only the longest sentence.
RSF continues to be concerned about the health of Ehssan Mazndarani, an imprisoned journalist who has been on hunger strike since 17 May. According to his family, he was taken back to Tehran’s Evin prison on 11 June although he is still refusing to eat and is suffering from pulmonary problems and anxiety attacks.
In a joint statement published on 11 June, 76 Iranian journalists called for the immediate release of these two journalists. “We are concerned about the crucial consequences that the hunger strike could have on the lives of these detained journalists and we condemn the violation of their legal and fundamental rights,” the statement said.
07.06.2016 - Concern about two journalists on hunger strike in prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) continues to be concerned about the way the authorities in Tehran’s Evin prison are treating Mohammad Sedegh Kabodvand and Ehssan Mazndarani, two journalists who are on hunger strike in protest against the conditions in which they are being held and the injustices to which they have been subjected.
Mazndarani has refused to eat since 17 May, according to his family, who were unable to locate him in the prison for several days after he had a heart attack on 21 May. It later turned out that, without telling the family, the prison authorities transferred him to a hospital, where doctors voiced concern about his condition. His family says he was also the victim of violence by a prison guard on the day he was hospitalized.
Kabodvand was hospitalized after he, too, had a heart attack on 25 May but was sent back to Evin prison a week later. Doctors say that his condition is critical and that the hunger strike could cost him his life.
As there no longer seems to be any limit to the persecution of media personnel in Iran, RSF calls on the authorities to give an immediate undertaking to guarantee the health of these two journalists. RSF also reminds Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, that he has a duty to intercede without delay and to demand official explanations from the authorities.
23.05.2016 – Alarm over fate of two journalists in Evin prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is outraged by the lack of transparency and denial of justice surrounding the hospitalization of Mohammad Sedegh Kabodvand, a journalist on hunger strike since 8 May in protest against his continuing detention and the judicial harassment to which he has been subjected in recent months
Kabodvand was taken to hospital on 21 May after collapsing in his cell in Tehran’s Evin prison but, after 24 hours of observation, he was returned to his cell. His family was able to visit him today but he was very weak and was unable to remain standing. He is continuing his hunger strike and his condition is very worrying.
Ehssan Mazndarani, another journalist held in Evin prison, has meanwhile disappeared within the prison, according to his wife, Malieh Hossieni.
She was told on 17 May that, on the orders of Revolutionary Court Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, he had been transferred back to Section 2A of Evin, a section controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.
But Evin prison officials denied this on 20 May without saying where he was. Arrested on 2 November 2015 along with three other journalists, Mazndarani was sentenced to seven years in prison on 26 April .
RSF urges Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, to intercede quickly and demand official explanations from the Iranian authorities.
12.05.2016 - Shargh’s former political editor released
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Keyvan Mehregan, a journalist who writes for reformist newspapers and used to be the daily Shargh’s political editor, was released yesterday after serving nine months of a one-year jail term. His wife said a judge granted his conditional release at a Tehran prosecutor’s request.
Mehregan was arrested when he went to the Tehran passport office to renew his passport on 26 August 2015. From there he was taken to Evin prison’s sentence enforcement office, where he was told that he had been sentenced to a year in prison and that he had to begin serving the sentence at once. He had been detained on several previous occasions since 2009.
09.05.2016 - Two citizen-journalists freed conditionally
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the decision taken on 4 May to grant a medical parole to citizen-journalist Hossien Ronaghi Malki in return for bail of 300 million toman (220,000 euros). Malki, who was arrested in December 2010 and is serving a 15-year jail sentence, has undergone several kidney operations and is in very poor health. He began a hunger strike more than a month ago.
According to his family, a forensic doctor said his medical problems were incompatible with further detention. The Tehran prosecutor’s office therefore obtained for him a suspension of sentence for one month on medical grounds.
RSF reminds the judicial authorities that Hossien should already have been released for good under article 134 of the new Islamic criminal code (as amended in 2013), according to which someone convicted of more than one crime serves only the main sentence.
RSF has also learned that citizen-journalist Atena Ferghdani was freed conditionally on 3 May following last month’s announcement by her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, that a Tehran appeal court had reduced her jail sentence from 12 years and nine months to 18 months. She continues to be sentenced to three years in prison on a separate charge of insulting the Supreme Leader but this sentence is now suspended and will expire in four years’ time .
29.04.2016 - Well-known cartoonist freed conditionally
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the release of Hadi Heidari, a well-known cartoonist who worked for the daily Shahrvand and ran the Persian Cartoon website. He was freed conditionally in Tehran on 27 April after completing half of a one-year jail sentence.
Plainclothesmen from the Tehran prosecutor’s office arrested him at Shahrvand on 16 November 2015 and took him to Evin prison, where he managed to inform his family that evening that he had been arrested to serve a prison sentence.
26.04.2016 – Long jail terms for journalists arrested in November
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the heavy jail sentences that have been passed on three journalists who were the victims of a wave of arrests in November.
Afarine Chitsaz of the daily Iran, Ehssan Mazndarani, the editor of the daily Farhikhteghan, and Saman Safarzai of the monthly Andisher Poya were sentenced to ten, seven and five years in prison respectively, according to their lawyers, Mahmoud Alizadeh-Tabatabaie and Iman Mirzazadeh.
A revolutionary court tried them on 7 March on charges of anti-government propaganda, conspiring against government officials and insulting government officials.
They and Issa Saharkhiz, a well-known independent journalist who edited several reformist newspapers in the past, were arrested at their homes by Revolutionary Guard intelligence officers on 2 November. No sentence has been announced for Saharkhiz, who has been in a Tehran hospital since 10 March after going on hunger strike and suffering a heart attack.
25.04.2016 – Court reduces citizen-journalist’s 12-year sentence
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that an appeal court has reduced the sentence imposed on citizen-journalist and human rights defender Atena Ferghdani, and that she is now due to be freed next month. RSF nonetheless calls for her immediate release because she is the innocent victim of judicial persecution.
Her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, told journalists today that a Tehran appeal court had reduced her jail sentence from 12 years and nine months to 18 months, and that she should therefore be able to leave prison on 11 May.
“The appeal court acquitted her on the charge of plotting against the regime and ordered a four-year suspension of her sentence for insulting the Supreme Leader, while her sentence for insulting Iran’s President and the guards of Section A2 of Evin prison was commuted to a fine,” he said. The only sentence upheld by the court was the 18-month jail term for anti-government propaganda, he added.
Ferghdani was arrested on 11 January 2015 when she responded to a summons from a Tehran revolutionary court for posting a video on Facebook and YouTube the previous month. In the video she had described her experiences in Section 2A of Evin prison – a section controlled by Revolutionary Guards – after a previous arrest in August 2014.
07.04.2016 - Two journalists freed
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved by this week’s release of two journalists – citizen-journalist Vahid Asghari on 4 April and professional journalist Said Razavi Faghih on 6 April.
A young information technology student arrested on 11 May 2008 at Tehran’s main international airport,Asghari was sentenced to death twice by a
revolutionary court on charges of “publishing false information with the aim of stirring up public
opinion,” “activities threatening national security” and “hosting anti-Islamic
and counter-revolutionary websites and collaborating with foreign media.” After
an international outcry,
the death sentence was quashed and, on 6 December 2012, another revolutionary court gave him an 18-year jail sentence, which a Tehran appeal court reduced to 15 years two months later.
Asghari has various ailments including Carpal tunnel syndrome (compression of the median nerve in the hand and forearm). He spent seven months in solitary confinement and was mistreated and tortured. In a letter to the presiding judge of one of the revolutionary courts on 17 October 2009, he gave a detailed description of the horrific interrogation sessions to which he was subjected.
Faghih used to work for various newspapers including Yass-é No, which the authorities closed in 2009. Arrested on 24 February 2014, he should have been released on completing a one-year sentence in March 2015 but he was given a new sentence of three and a half years in prison on charges of anti-government publicity and insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Assembly of Experts.
He suffers from various renal and cardio-vascular ailments and underwent a heart operation in January 2015, following which he was returned to Rajaishah prison. He began a hunger strike on 27 March in protest against the way he was being treated and was released ten days later.
29.03.2016 – Two journalists freed pending trial
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that the journalist Hassan Shikhaghai was released on bail on 15 December, pending trial. The editor of Ruwange, a news website based in Mahabad, in the northwestern province of Kurdistan, he was arrested on 7 October 2015 by plainclothesmen at the Mahabad revolutionary court’s behest.
RSF has also been told that Farzad Pourmoradi, a journalist based in the western province of Kermanshah who works for the Kermanshah Post, has also been released pending trial. He had to pay 90 million toman (70,000 euros) in bail. Revolutionary Guard plainclothesmen raided his home and arrested him on 2 November after he created a Kalaghnews page on the Telegram social networking service. He is charged with “activities against national security,” “anti-government publicity” and insulting government officials. He suffered acute cardiac and pancreatic problems while in prison.
17.03.2016 - Sent into exile after four years in prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the ruthless manner in which the judicial authorities are enforcing the sentence imposed in 2013 on journalist and researcher Said Madani. Released on 15 March, after four years in prison,Madani has been ordered to travel at once to the southern city of Bandar Abbas to begin a period of two years in exile there.
A sociologist and writer (who haswritten
many articles for independent media outlets), Madani was freed under article
134 of the new Islamic criminal code (as amended in 2013), under which someone
convicted of more than one crime serves
only the main sentence.
After being arrested by plainclothesmen at his Tehran home on 7 January 2012, Madani spent a year in isolation in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison. The decision to sentence him to a jail term followed by exile was taken by a Tehran revolutionary court on 18 June 2013.
18.02.2016 – Four Narenji website employees returned to prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns yesterday’s rearrest of four senior members of the Narenji (Orange) tech news website to begin serving long jail sentences that were confirmed on appeal. The four – Ali Asghar Honarmand, Hossien Nozari, Ehsan Paknejad and Abass Vahedi – are sentenced to eleven, seven, five and two and a half years in prison respectively.
Originally arrested along with seven colleagues in the southeastern city of Kerman on 3 December 2013, they were convicted by a Kerman court on 24 May 2014 on charges of “anti-government publicity,” “actions threatening national security” and “collaborating with TV stations based abroad.” Their seven colleagues received suspended sentences. All were freed in return for payment of large bail amounts. A court upheld the sentences on 30 November 2015 but the authorities did not notify them prior to the time of their rearrest.
12.02.2016 - Former BBC journalist detained in Tehran
Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of Bahman Darolshafai, a 34-year-old former BBC journalist with British and Iranian dual nationality. Arrested at his Tehran home by plainclothesmen on 3 February, he managed to make a short phone call to his mother five days later, telling her he was “in a cell in Evin prison and under interrogation.”
After several years in London, Darolshafa left the BBC’s Persian Service n 2014 and returned to Iran. Thereafter he was repeatedly interrogated by intelligence ministry officials and was forbidden to do any kind of journalistic activity. He had been translating literary and philosophical works.
2.02.2016 - Four journalists held provisionally for past two months
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the continuing provisional detention of four journalists who were the victims of a wave of arrests exactly two months ago, on 2 November 2015 .
Mahmoud Alizadeh-Tabatabaie, a lawyer representing two of the four, said: “There are differences between the investigation judge and the prosecutor as regards the charges against my clients.” He is defending Ehssan Mazndarani, the editor of the daily Farhikhteghan, and Issa Saharkhiz, a well-known independent journalist.
As well as being accused of “propaganda activities against the government,” they are also charged with “acting against national security by means of meetings” and “conspiring against and insulting government officials.”
The case has been sent to the Tehran revolutionary court, whose president, Aboughasem Salevati, has been persecuting journalists and online information providers for years. He staged the “Stalin-style” mass trials in August 2009 and alone is responsible for convicting more than 100 journalists.
The other two journalists arrested on 2 November are Afarine Chitsaz of the daily Iran and Saman Safarzai of the monthly Andisher Poya. All four continue to be denied all their rights.
14.01.2016 – Woman journalist detained for fourth time since 2009
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns journalist Rihaneh Tabtabai’s detention for the fourth time since 2009. Tabtabai, who has worked for Shargh,Etemad, Bahar and other reformist newspapers, was jailed on 12 January to serve a one-year sentence on charges of endangering national security and anti-government publicity.
Originally imposed by a revolutionary court in November 2014, the sentence was upheld by a Tehran appeal court two months ago. She is also sentenced to a two-year ban on political and journalistic activity in the media and online after she completes the jail term.
After being arrested on 12 December 2010, she was released on bail of 10 million toman (7,500 euros) on 16 January 2011. On 2 April 2012, she received a two-year jail sentence from a Tehran revolutionary court that was reduced to six months on appeal. She served the sentence from 21 June to 11 November 2014. She was also detained from 31 January to 26 February 2013, when she was freed on bail.
12.01.2016 – Journalist sent back to prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Meisam Mohammadi’s
reimprisonment on 8 January. A onetime political editor of Kalameh Sabaz (a daily closed by the authorities in June 2009) and contributor to the Beheshti Foundation website, Mohammadi was arrested at his home by intelligence ministry officials on 10 February 2010 and was freed on bail two months later, pending trial. He was sentenced in May 2012 to four years in prison and a five-year ban on journalistic and political activities on charges of anti-government publicity and “meeting to conspire against national security.”
Kalameh Sabaz’s owner, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, the writer Zahra Rahnavard (who is Mousavi wife) and Mehdi Karoubi, a former parliamentary speaker and owner of the closed newspaper Etemad Melli, are still illegally held under house arrest and have been detained since 24 February 2011. Mousavi and Karoubi, who were both presidential candidates in 2009, have also been stripped of all of their rights. Their state of health is very worrying.