Reporters Without Borders condemns wave of crackdown on journalists in Iran

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the latest crackdown on journalists in Iran, in which, several have been questioned in the past month or so and three have been arrested in the past week in connection with social network posts.

“We call for the immediate release of journalists held arbitrarily and urge the regime to stop suppressing the freedom to inform,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk.
“Obstructing press freedom and arresting journalists do not in any help to combat corruption.”

Journalists recently arrested by the regime include Saba Azarpeyk, a former reporter with the pro-reformist daily Etemad, freelance journalist Ejlal Ghavami, and Massoud Kazemi a reporter with the pro-reformist daily Sharq.
Hivanews website editor Kazem Imanzadeh was summoned for questioning by judicial officials in Sanandaj on 6 October.

Iranian security authorities arrested Saba Azarpeyk, a journalist in Iran’s reformist Etemad newspaper, after she uncovered that a minister, who recently retired, was involved in a corruption case.

Only one day before being arrested she had revealed a document proving the corruption of former Iranian Minister of Industry Mohammad Shariatmadari.

“She was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence agents during a raid on her home October 29 and her accounts on Twitter and the encrypted messaging app Telegram were shut down shortly thereafter,” RSF’s statement read.

Azarpeyk, according to RSF, “Had just accused newly appointed Labor Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari—a former Mines, Industry, and Commerce minister with a murky intelligence agency background—of corruption and favoritism. Posted on social networks with supporting documents, her accusations came just before a vote of confidence in parliament October 27 and caused a major stir online and within Iran’s political class.”

She had previously been arrested on May 28, 2014, and spent more than 80 days in solitary confinement, until freed pending trial on 20 August 2014 on bail of 200 million toman (190,000 euros).
Azarpeik was freed on bail on October 31.

Masoud Kazemi the editor-in-chief of the monthly political magazine, Sedaye Parsi (Persian Voice)

Plainclothesmen detained Masoud Kazemi the editor-in-chief of the monthly political magazine, Sedaye Parsi (Persian Voice) on November 5, 2018.

His family has not yet been told why he was arrested or where he is being held. He often posts tweets criticizing the situation in Iran and the policies of the different government factions. His Twitter account has been inaccessible since her arrest.

“Bail has been set at 250 million tomans [approximately $59,340 USD], which I hope his family will be able to come up with,” his attorney, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, tweeted on November 6.

“Detention without prior warning is only permissible in very limited cases for people accused of serious or dangerous crimes but unfortunately, it is repeatedly happening to journalists and becoming a normal pattern,” he added.

In Sanandaj, in the province of Kurdistan, freelance journalist Ejlal Ghavami was sentenced to eight months in prison on 16 September on a charge of “publishing false information designed to trouble public opinion.” He had been tried on 20 August after posting three articles on social networks about the situation of prisoners of conscience in Kurdistan province.

Hivanews website editor Kazem Imanzadeh was summoned for questioning by judicial officials in Sanandaj on 6 October after Revolutionary Guards filed a complaint against him making the same accusation, namely, “publishing false information designed to trouble public opinion.” He was released pending a decision by the court.

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