Press freedom violations recounted in real time (from 1st January 2011)
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Taghi Rahmani, a freelance journalist and staunch defender of freedom of expression, was released on 17 May after being held for 100 days. He was given a preliminary release on 15 May but was summoned back to Evin prison two days later to sign administrative documents and was re-released in the evening.
Plainclothes men arrested Rahmani at his Tehran home on 9 February, five days ahead of a demonstration being organized by government opponents in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings.
He has been a journalist since 1981, working for various media, and has spent more than 16 years in Iranian prisons. He has been prosecuted both for working for underground newspapers such as Pishtazan and Movahed and for working for legal newspapers such as Iran-e-Farda and Omid Zanjan.
Reporters Without Borders can also confirm that journalist and researcher Mohammad Norizad was freed on 8 May, as reported on his blog http://nurizad.info/. Arrested on 20 December 2009 after being summoned by the police, he was sentenced on 29 May 2010 to 50 lashes and three and a half years in prison on charges of anti-government publicity and insulting the authorities. He subsequently staged several hunger strikes in protest against his detention.
Norizad worked for several years as a columnist for the daily Kayhan, the leading mouthpiece of Iran’s conservatives. Following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June 2009, he began to openly criticise the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, the government and the judicial system.
10.05.2011 - Journalist arrested six years after being sentenced
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Abolfazle Vesali, a journalist with the weekly Saghi Tabriz and former editor of the now closed daily Nedai Azarabadegan, was arrested on 3 May to begin serving a jail sentence imposed in 2005. He managed to tell friends the next day that he was in the main prison in Tabriz, the capital of the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan.
Vesali was sentenced to six months in jail by a Tabriz revolutionary court in April 2005 on a charge of “inciting revolt” while Nedai Azarabadegan was banned by an East Azerbaijan provincial court for “publishing false information.”
He and several other journalists were arrested in 2006 when members of Iran’s Azeri minority staged a series of angry protests in Tabriz in response to a cartoon of a cockroach saying “What?” in the Azeri language in the children’s section of the supplement of Iran, a daily published by the government news agency IRNA. The newspaper quickly apologized for the cartoon, which Azeris regarded as an insult. Vesali was released on bail after 45 days.
19.04.2011 Six-year jail sentence for woman journalist
Nazanin Khosravani, a journalist who writes for several reformist newspapers such as Bahar, Karghozaran and Sarmayeh, has been notified that a Tehran revolutionary court has sentenced her to six years in prison on charges of anti-government propaganda and activities that threaten national security. She had been released on 15 March.
18.04.2011-Government news agency journalist arrested Manoucher Tamary, a journalist with the government news agency IRNA, was arrested yesterday at his home in Sanandaj (in the western province of Kurdistan) by men in plain-clothes, who searched his home and seized his computer. It is not known where they took him. Aged 56, Tamary has worked for IRNA since 1994. IRNA reports that he had received a summons from the intelligence ministry a week before his arrest. The news agency’s management has called for his release.
17.03.2011-Two women journalists freed Reporters Without Borders has learned of the release of two women journalists in the past two days.
One is Nazanin Khosravani, a contributor to Bahar, Karghozaran, Sarmayeh and other reformist newspapers, who was released on 15 March after being held for 135 days. Her family spent two weeks without any news of her, without even knowing where she was being held, after her arrest at her home by intelligence ministry agents on 2 November.
The other is Mahsa Amrabadi, a reporter for the now closed newspaper Etemad Melli, who was released yesterday. She was arrested at the end of a demonstration held in Tehran on 1 March in protest against the detention of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives.
03.03.2011 - Two women journalists arrested at Tehran demonstration Reporters Without Borders has learned that two women journalists – Mahsa Amrabadi, a reporter for the closed newspaper Etemad Melli, and Fakhrolsadat Mohtashamipour, a blogger – were arrested at the end of a demonstration in Tehran on 1 March in protest against the arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
Amrabadi was previously arrested on 14 June 2008, obtaining her release on bail of 200 million tomans (150,000 euros) on 22 August 2009. A revolutionary court sentenced her to a year in prison on 14 October 2010.
She is the wife of Masoud Bastani, a journalist with the daily Farhikhteghan who was arrested on 4 July 2009 and who was one of the many journalists subjected to the Stalinist-style mass trials that the authorities began holding in August 2009. On 1 November 2009, a revolutionary court gave him a six-year sentence, which he is now serving in Rajai Shahr prison.
Mohtashamipour is the wife of Mostapha Tajzadeh, a reformist leader held since 12 June 2009. Ever since his arrest she has been defending the cause of political prisoners on her blog (http://www.mohtashami.info/), which has been blocked four times.
Both Amrabadi and Mohtashamipour have probably been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison.
Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile learned that Mazyar Khosravi, a journalist with the daily Shargh, was released on 24 February. After intelligence ministry officials told his family he had been admitted to a military hospital following a heart attack, the family deposited bail so that he could be released provisionally and transferred to a civilian hospital.
He was arrested at his workplace on 11 February by intelligence ministry officials.
11.02.2011 - New wave of arrests, crackdown on media
The Iranian authorities launched a new wave of arrests of journalists in the run-up to a demonstration called by government opponents for 14 February in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian peoples. At least four journalists and bloggers have been arrested in Tehran since 9 February:
Taghi Rahmani, an independent journalist and staunch free speech activist, was arrested at his Tehran home on 9 February.
Meisam Mohammadi and Omid Mohadess, journalists with the Behesti foundation’s website (http://www.beheshti.org/), were arrested at their homes by plain-clothes police on 10 February. It is not yet known why they were arrested or where they are being held.
Mazyar Khosravi of the daily Shargh was arrested at his workplace on 11 February by intelligence ministry agents.
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, a number of journalists and bloggers have also been summoned for questioning by Revolutionary Guards and intelligence ministry officials in various parts of the country.
7 February 2011 - Four-year jail sentence for journalist who interviewed gays
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Siamak Qaderi, a former journalist with the government news agency IRNA, was sentenced on 21 January to four years in prison and 60 lashes. He was arrested on 5 August 2010 on charges of anti-government propaganda and disseminating false information on his blog liable to disrupt public order.
Qaderi was fired from IRNA after interviewing gays in Iran and posting the interviews on his blog, regardless of the fact that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had proclaimed, during a visit to the United States in September 2007, that “there are no homosexuals in Iran.”
Mehran Faraji, a journalist with the daily Shargh and the now-closed daily Etemad Melli, was meanwhile released on bail on 4 February pending trial. He was arrested on 12 December 2010 in Tehran.
24.01.2011 - Journalist begins serving one-year jail term for talking to international radio stations
Ehsan Mehrabi, a journalist with the daily Farhikhteghan, was arrested on 22 January to begin serving the one-year jail sentence he received from a revolutionary court in November on a charge of “anti-government publicity” for giving interviews to the BBC’s Farsi-language service and Radio Farda. The sentence was upheld by a Tehran appeal court.
Initially arrested on 18 February 2009, he had been released on bail of 50 million toman (45,000 euros) on 13 March 2010.
19.01.2011 - Two journalists freed on bail
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Keyvan Mehregan, political editor of the daily newspaper Sharght and Fariborz Rais Dana, writer and member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, have been freed on bail. Keyvan Mehregan had to post bail of 10 million tomans (about 7, 500 euros) and Fariborz Rais Dana 30 million tomans (about 22,500 euros).
17.01.2011- Two journalists freed on bail in Iran; others held, sentenced
Reporters Without Borders learned today that two Iranian journalists working for the daily Shargh, Rihaneh Tabatabai and Farzaneh Roustaei, have been freed on bail of 10 million toman (about 7,500 euros) each. Rihaneh Tabatabai was arrested at his home by officials of the information ministry on 12 December last. Farzaneh Roustaei, in charge of the international pages, was detained five days later.
Fariborz Rais Dana, writer and member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested on 19 December at his home by plainclothes officers of the information ministry. His lawyer Nasser Zarafshan, said he faced two charges. “One relates to criticism of the government policy of liberalization of prices in an interview with BBC television; the other concerns the activities of the Association of Iranian Journalists,” he said.
He told Reporters Without Borders that the cases had been referred to the 2nd chamber of the revolutionary court in Tehran and that he had asked for his client to be freed provisionally. The lawyer said he had visited Fariborz Rais Dana, with his wife at the Evin prison on 6 January.
The 36th Tehran appeal chamber sentenced journalist and human rights activist Shiva Nazar-Ahari to four years in jail and 74 lashes for propaganda against the regime and action against national security. She was arrested by the police on 20 December 2009, the day before the funeral of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. On 28 August 2010, the 26th chamber of the Tehran revolutionary court gave her a six-year prison sentence.
Nasour Naghipour, blogger and human rights activist was given a seven year sentence on 8 January this year. He had been arrested on 2 March 2010. He is editor of the website http://www.nasour.net/ and was detained at his home in the city of Qazvin before being freed on 20 June 2010 on bail of 100 million toman (75,000 euros).