Reports: Crackdown on Iran’s Journalists

July 11, 2014

            The crackdown on journalists that began in that aftermath of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election is continuing today, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Iran has ranked among the world's top three worst jailers of the press every year” since 2009. The Islamic Republic imprisoned at least 35 journalists in prison in 2013.
           
Since late May, authorities have targeted several journalists for charges such as “propaganda against the state” and “disrupting public order through participation in gatherings.” The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported that prominent journalists Marzieh Rasouli was summoned to Evin Prison to receive 50 lashes and serve two years in prison for those two charges.
           
The following are excerpts from reports by the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

 
Committee to Protect Journalists
 
• On June 28, 2014, Iranian journalist and CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Mashallah Shamsolvaezin wrote on his Facebook page that he had been charged with "propaganda against the state" related to his interviews with media and speeches he gave at two regional and international journalism conferences. He said he was released on bail of 2 billion riyals (approximately US$80,000).
 
• On June 21, 2014, Reihaneh Tabatabei, a journalist who worked for Shargh and Bahar, was summoned to Evin Prison to begin serving a six-month prison sentence for prior charges related to "publishing news about the Green Movement," according to reports.
 
• On June 20, 2014, critical blogger Mehdi Khazali was arrested while on a trip to the north of Iran, according to news reports. Reports said the arrest could be in connection with a critical blog post Khazali wrote that accused Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani of corruption and embezzlement. Kani is the head of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body charged with electing the Supreme Leader. It is not clear if Khazali has been charged.
 
• On June 19, 2014, the Kerman province prosecutor announced that 11 staff members of Pat Shargh Govashir, a company that owns the popular Iranian technology news website Narenji and its sister sites, Nardebaan and Negahbaan, had been sentenced to between one and 11 years in prison on charges of receiving training from and producing content for the BBC, according to news reports.
 
• On June 7, 2014, Iranian documentary filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi reported to Evin Prison to begin serving a five-year prison sentence, according to news reports. The government charged Mohammadi with propaganda and collusion against the state, claiming she was cooperating with the BBC, but she denied ever working with the channel, the reports said.
 
• On May 28, 2014, Saba Azarpeik, a reformist journalist with the weekly Tejarat-e Farda and daily Etemad, was arrested at the Tejarat-e Farda offices, according to news reports. Azarpeik, who was arrested previously in 2013, has often written critically of conservative officials and human rights abuses in the country, the reports said.
 
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International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
 
The prominent journalist Marzieh Rasouli was summoned to Evin Prison on July 8, 2014, for the implementation of her sentence of 50 lashes and two years’ imprisonment, she announced on Twitter, even though Rasouli has not yet received confirmation of the initial sentence from the appeals court.
 
“They quickly want to implement the sentence,” she added on Twitter.
 
Her case is one of many recently, reflecting a current wave of arrests, prosecution under vague national security grounds, and imprisonment of journalists in Iran.
 
Rasouli was arrested on the eve of January 17, 2012, at her home in Tehran. She was detained for 40 days in Section 2-A of Evin Prison under the supervision of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. She was released on payment of bail set at 300 million tomans (about $100,000) but was found guilty of “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public order by participating in gatherings,” for which she received the two years and 50 lashes sentence.
 
Rasouli is a veteran journalist who has worked for several reformist publications, including Shargh, Kargozaran, and Etemad newspapers. She writes on culture, music, and literature and has not been involved in any political activities.
 
On April 21, 2014, the journalist Hossein Nouraninejad was arrested by security forces and taken to IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison. He was released nearly two months later on June 16, on 200 million toman bail ($77,600), and is awaiting sentencing on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security.”
 
Another prominent journalist and former central council member of the Tahkim Vahdat student organization, Serajeddin Mirdamadi, is in temporary detention at Section 2-A, awaiting trial at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on August 2 on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security.”
 
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