Rearrests of two pardoned journalists shows that any freedom in Iran is conditional
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of two journalists who were pardoned by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in February, after being jailed in 2022, and have just been arrested again.
Update: Since August 13, 2023, Nazila Maroufian has been on temporary release after repeated imprisonments on charges of "propaganda & false news" against the regime. She was released on bail of 300 million Iranian tomans (approximately 6,500 euros). This condition is intended to intimidate journalists and further restrict the right to information.
It is clear from last week’s rearrests of Hossein Yazdi, the director of the Iran Times news channel on Telegram and the Mobin 24 news site, and freelance journalist Nazila Maroufian, that the Supreme Leader’s pardon had a price and ultimately was just an illusion.
“For journalists in Iran, all freedom is conditional. This is the message that the Islamic Republic wants to send by rearresting two recently pardoned journalists. Its pardons have never been anything else but threats. But journalism is not a crime that needs pardoning. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Hossein Yazdi and Nazila Maroufian, as well as all of the 21 other journalists detained in Iran.”
Accused of anti-state propaganda, Yazdi was arrested after being summoned for questioning on 4 July by the security forces in the central city of Isfahan, and was transferred to Dastgerdi prison. Bail of 90 million rials (2,000 euros) has been requested for his release.
His daughter, Saba Yazdi, said on Twitter that she has not been allowed to visit him or communicate with him in any way since his arrest. He has health problems and his family fears he is not getting access to medical services.
On the same day that Yazdi was arrested, intelligence officers raided Maroufian’s home in Tehran. As she was leaving her home, they blocked her way, seized her phone, ordered her to open the door and then carried out a thorough search, confiscating personal effects. They also seized and read her personal diary.
“The house is not safe. The street is not safe. Our entire safety has been confiscated,” she wrote on Instagram.
Maroufian was summoned for questioning at the court in Tehran’s Evin prison four days later, on 8 July, and, like Yazdi, she was not allowed to leave. But, unlike Yazdi, no bail has been set for her release. The authorities have also ignored requests for information about the reasons for her arrest and have not said what she is charged with.
Both Yazdi and Maroufian were arrested and convicted last year in connection with the protests that followed Kurdish student Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody in September 2022. Arrested on 30 October 2022 as a result of interviewing Amini’s father for the Rouydad24 news site, Maroufian was released on bail in early January before being given a two-year suspended prison sentence for “anti-government propaganda” and “spreading false news.” She had recently talked very openly about her spell in prison.
Yazdi had been detained since December 2022 when, like Maroufian, he was one of the journalists included in the pardon issued on 10 February. Keyvan Samimi, another journalist who was released at the same time, was rearrested on 20 April and was then released on 22 May.