New York, May 6, 2010—At least 35 journalists were behind bars in Iran as of May 1 with another 18 detainees free on short-term furloughs, according to CPJ’s monthly census of imprisoned Iranian journalists. The figures, unchanged from CPJ’s April census, reflect a government still intent on silencing free expression.
“Iran’s leadership is taking the country into a period of permanent media repression,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “These policies have done immense damage to Iranian society and the country’s standing in the world.”
Iran remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists, CPJ research shows. China was holding 24 journalists behind bars when CPJ conducted its worldwide census on December 1, 2009. CPJ research shows the number in China has remained stable since that time.
In Iran, most of the 18 furloughed journalists were freed in March for the Iranian New Year but have yet to be taken back into custody. The reformist news Web site Kalame reported that the furloughed writers, many of whom were due back in jail in April, remain free in part because some judicial officials have come to see the imprisonment of journalists as a blot on the judiciary’s record.
CPJ is conducting monthly surveys of journalists imprisoned in Iran in response to the government crackdown. CPJ’s April census also recorded 35 journalists in Iranian prisons with 18 on short-term furlough. The March census recorded 52 journalists in prison, while the February census found 47 behind bars. The surveys, conducted on the first of each month, are snapshots of those incarcerated on that date.
Below are capsule reports on the journalists imprisoned and furloughed in Iran:
Adnan Hassanpour, Aso
Imprisoned: January 25, 2007
Security agents seized Hassanpour, former editor for the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, Kurdistan province, according to news reports.
In November 2009, a trial court convicted Hassanpour on the new charges and re-imposed the death sentence, the BBC said. According to reports on the Human Rights Activists Web site, Adnan Hassanpour’s death sentence was overturned in February and he was given a new sentence of 31 years in prison. Human Rights Activists said Hassanpour’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, has submitted an appeal.
Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Payam-e Mardom
Imprisoned: July 1, 2007
Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand at his Tehran office, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He is being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.
Authorities accused Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e Mardom, of acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, according to his organization’s Web site.
Mojtaba Lotfi, freelance
Imprisoned: October 8, 2008
A clergyman and blogger, Lotfi was arrested by security forces on a warrant issued by the religious Clergy Court in Qom. Authorities accused him of publishing the views of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who had criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s positions.
Authorities did not specify particular articles or publications in which the views were supposedly cited. Lotfi was convicted of several charges, including spreading antistate information, and sentenced to four years in prison, according to news reports.
The reformist news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz reported that Lotfi, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War who was disabled after exposure to chemical warfare, was granted “open prison” privileges after he developed respiratory problems at Qom’s Langaroud Prison several months ago. Under the “open prison” conditions, Lotfi could leave the jail each evening and return early the next morning. In April, his “open prison” privileges were revoked because of his perceived affiliation with the late Ayatollah Montazeri’s office, Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz reported.
Hossein Derakhshan, freelance
Imprisoned: November 2008
On December 30, 2008, a spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary confirmed in a press conference in Tehran that Derakhshan, a well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger, had been detained since November 2008 in connection with comments he allegedly made about a key cleric, according to local and international news reports.
The exact date of Derakhshan’s arrest was unknown, but news of his detention first appeared on November 17, 2008, on a Web site close to the Iranian intelligence apparatus. At the time, Jahan News reported that he had confessed to “spying for Israel” during the preliminary interrogation.
Derakhshan started blogging after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. A former writer for reformist newspapers, he also contributed opinion pieces to The Guardian of London and The New York Times. The journalist, who lived in Canada during most of the last decade, returned to Tehran a few weeks prior to his detention, The Washington Post reported. In November 2009, the BBC Persian service reported that Derakhshan’s family had sought information about his whereabouts and the charges he faced and expressed concern about having very limited contact with him.
According to an article in Khodnevis, a cooperative Web site of Iranian journalists, Derakhshan has spent more than nine months of his detention in solitary confinement at Evin Prison. He has not had any visits with his family, and has only recently been allowed to buy items at the prison store. According to this article, Derakhshan’s charges range from espionage for Israel to illegitimate sexual relationships and insulting sacred concepts, charges that carry a death sentence.
On March 18, 2010, in a widely published open letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, Derakhshan’s mother complained about the judiciary’s silence on her son’s case. In an interview with the U.S.-funded Radio Farda, Derakhshan’s brother, Hamed Derakhshan, also said that Hossein has not been informed of his charges during his 500 days in custody. He said Derakhshan apparently made “confessions” under pressure that he later retracted.
Nader Karimi Jooni, Jahan-e-Sanat, Sharq, Gozaresh, Fekr, and Siasat-e-Rooz
Imprisoned: December 2008
Jooni, arrested in late 2008, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 11, 2010, at Branch 28 of the
Jooni, who was an editor and writer for now-defunct publications such as Gozaresh, Fekr, Jahan-e Sanat, and Siasat Roozi, was placed in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, where political prisoners are held. He is an Iran-Iraq War veteran who requires ongoing medical care, according to reformist news Web site Kalame. Jooni was named as a prisoner in critical health in an April 6 report from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and in an April 28 report on Parleman News.
Mohammad Pour Abdollah, freelance
Imprisoned: February 13, 2009
On December 9, 2009, branch 15 of Iran’s Revolutionary Courts sentenced Pour Abdollah, a Tehran university student and a blogger, to six years in prison for “illegal congregation, actions against national security, and propagating against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” according to the BBC Persian Web site. Several news Web sites said he has been tortured and abused physically and psychologically in Ghezel Hesar Prison, which houses hardened criminals.
Since his detention, Pour Abdollah’s blog has been disabled. Only his last post can be accessed on another writer’s blog. In that post, Pour Abdollah writes critically about the political, social, and economic conditions in Iran and elsewhere. According to an April 21 report on the Human Rights Activists Web site, Pour Abdollah’s six-year prison sentence was reduced to three years. His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaee, expressed hope in a recent interview that Pour Abdollah might be released on furlough or parole.
Morteza Moradpour, Yazligh
Imprisoned: May 22, 2009
Moradpour, who wrote for Yazligh, a children’s magazine, is serving a three-year prison term on charges of “propagation against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” “mutiny,” and “illegal congregation,” according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. An appeals court in Azerbaijan province upheld the sentence, according to the committee’s February 9 report.
Moradpour was arrested in 2009 along with several other family members during a protest pertaining to Azeri language rights in Tabriz, according to a news article on the Committee of Human Rights Reporters’ Web site. Two issues of Yazligh were used as evidence in the trial against him, the news Web site Bizim Tabriz reported.
Moradpour’s attorney said the charges were politically motivated and fabricated, the news Web site Tabriz Sesi reported. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters said pressure on members of Azeri civil society had increased as the government attempted to marginalize the ethnic minority.
Ahmad Zaid-Abadi, freelance
Imprisoned: June 2009
Zaid-Abadi, who wrote a weekly column for Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site, was arrested in Tehran, according to news reports. Zaid-Abadi is also the director of the Organization of University Alumni of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi.
Mahdieh Mohammadi, Zaid-Abadi’s wife, was allowed to see the journalist after he had spent 53 days in custody, according to the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He told her that he was being held in inhumane conditions, according to the Parleman News Web site.
On November 23, 2009, Zaid-Abadi was sentenced to six years in prison, five years’ exile to Gonabad in Khorasan Province, and a “lifetime deprivation of any political activity” including “interviews, speech, and analysis of events, whether in written or oral form,” according to Deutsche Welle’s Persian Web site. An appeals court upheld the sentence on January 2, 2010, according to Advar News.
Zaid-Abadi and journalist Massoud Bastani were transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison in February. His lawyer objected to the transfer, according to the reformist daily Etemad. Rajaee Shahr Prison’s detainees are mostly hardened criminals.
Omid Salimi, Nesf e Jehan
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009
Salimi, a photographer who worked for Nesf e Jehan newspaper in Esfahan, was arrested after being summoned by the Revolutionary Guards to pick up belongings confiscated during an earlier arrest, according to Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, a local human rights watchdog. Salimi had been detained in December 2008 and had spent three months in prison on unspecified charges.
After his most recent arrest, Salimi was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists New Agency. No formal charges have been disclosed.
Kayvan Samimi, Nameh
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009
Samimi, manager of the now-defunct monthly Nameh, is being held in Evin Prison after his arrest in Tehran, according to news reports. Samimi called his family in October to tell them that he was pressured to make a false confession, his lawyer told Rooz Online.
On February 22, Samimi was transferred from Evin’s general ward to solitary confinement after he objected to unsuitable prison conditions, according to the Free Iranian Journalists Web site. A scheduled family visit was also cancelled.
Hamzeh Karami, Jomhoriyat
Imprisoned: June 19, 2009
Karami, editor of the now-defunct reformist news Web site Jomhoriyat was arrested on June 19, 2009, according to the reformist Web site Nedaye Sabz-e Azadi. Jomhoriyat was banned by Iranian authorities on June 12, 2009, the Asr-e Iran news Web site reported. Karami, a close ally of reformist politician Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been coerced into confessions implicating himself and others, according to the Reporters and Human Rights Activists of Iran Web site.
On February 27, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison and fined the equivalent of US$600,000. Some of his charges were “acting against national security through congregation and mutiny intended to disrupt public order,” “propagating against the regime,” “propagating falsehoods,” and embezzlement, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Karami is being held at Evin Prison, the reformist news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz reported.
Issa Saharkhiz, freelance
Imprisoned: July 3, 2009
Saharkhiz, a columnist for the reformist news Web sites Rooz Online and Norooz and a founding member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested while traveling in northern Iran, the association said in a statement. His lawyer said his client faces charges of “participation in riots,” “encouraging others to participate in riots,” and “insulting the supreme leader,” according to Rooz Online.
Saharkhiz has had a long career in journalism. He worked for 15 years for IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, and ran its New York office for part of that time. He returned to Iran in 1997 to work in Mohammad Khatami’s Ministry of Islamic Guidance, in charge of domestic publications. Journalist Ahmad Bourghani and Saharkhiz came to be known as the architects of a period of relative freedom for the press in Iran. After Saharkhiz was forced to leave the ministry and was banned from government service in a trial, he founded a reformist newspaper, Akhbar-e Eghtesad, and monthly magazine, Aftab, both of which were eventually banned. He wrote articles directly critical of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.
The columnist has been subjected to constant pressure at Evin Prison, including being kept in a prison yard overnight in freezing temperatures without shoes or socks according to Rooz Online.
Saharkhiz waged a hunger strike in March according to the Norooz news Web site, which quoted his son as saying that he lost about 45 pounds (20 kilograms). In an open letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, published on the Saham News Web site on April 15, Saharkhiz asked the U.N. leader to visit political prisoners being held at Evin Prison. The journalist remains in solitary confinement.
Massoud Bastani, Farhikhtegan and Jomhoriyat
Imprisoned: July 5, 2009
Bastani, a journalist for the reformist newspaper Farihikhtegan and Jomhoriyat, a news Web site affiliated with the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested when he went to a Tehran court seeking information about his wife, journalist Mehsa Amrabadi, according to local news reports. Amrabadi, arrested along with two other journalists on June 15, was released on August 25.
Bastani was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August 2009 on vague antistate accusations, according to news reports. In September, his lawyer, Mohammad Sharrif, told the online Amir Kabir Newsletter that Bastani had spent weeks in solitary confinement.
On October 20, 2009, the news site Norooz reported that a court had sentenced Bastani to six years in prison for “propagating against the regime and congregating and mutinying to create anarchy.”
Bastani had been editor-in-chief of the now-banned Neda-ye Eslahat (Voice of Reform) weekly. Bastani was transferred to the Rajaee Shahr Prison for hardened criminals, along with Ahmad Zaid-Abadi, according to the reformist daily Etemad.
Saeed Matin-Pour, Yar Pag and Mouj Bidari
Imprisoned: July 12, 2009
Matin-Pour was first arrested in May 2007 and released on bail. He was rearrested in 2009 amid the government’s crackdown on the press. The journalist worked for Yar Pag and Mouj Bidari newspapers in western Azerbaijan province, in addition to writing his own blog, according to local news reports.
Matin-Pour suffers from heart and respiratory problems, and his family has not been able to secure a medical release for examination outside prison, according to the Web site Advarnews. Matin-Pour suffered severe chest pains on February 4, but prison authorities delayed medical attention, according to Savalan Sessi, an Azeri human rights Web site. Matin-Pour’s wife, Atieh Taheri, told the Reporters and Human Rights Activists that the journalist’s health has deteriorated and he is being denied proper medical care at Evin Prison.
Mohammad Hossein Sohrabi Rad, Saham News
Imprisoned: September 2009
Sohrabi Rad was arrested by Ministry of Information agents on charges of working with Saham News in preparing a documentary on prisoner abuse at the Kahrizak Detention Center, according to the reformist Web site Asr-e Nou. (The detention center was closed in July 2009 after evidence emerged of pervasive abuse of detainees.)
Asr-e Nou reported that Sohrabi Rad had been subjected to physical and psychological pressure at Evin Prison. Authorities transferred Sohrabi Rad from Ward 209, where political prisoners are held, to solitary confinement in Ward 240, according to news reports. A prison doctor said the journalist was suffering greatly in prison, according to the Web site of Human Rights and Democracy Activists of Iran. He was married shortly before his arrest, according to the site.
Mohammad Davari, Saham News
Imprisoned: September 5, 2009
Saham News, a Web site affiliated with presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, reported that its editor-in-chief, Davari, had been detained. Seventeen days after his arrest, the journalist was allowed to contact his family, according to the Tahavolkhani news Web site. His mother said he was being held at Tehran’s Evin Prison.
Davari was brought to trial on November 22 on charges of propagating against the regime, congregation and mutiny for disrupting national security, and creating chaos in public order. In the weeks after the election, Davari had videotaped the testimony of inmates at Kahrizak Detention Center who alleged they had been raped and abused while in custody, according to the Free Iranian Journalists blog. (The detention center was closed in July 2009 after evidence emerged of pervasive abuse of detainees.)
After Davari complained about poor prison conditions during a visit by a government official, he was sent to solitary confinement, according to the Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz reformist news Web site. He went on a one-week hunger strike in protest. He remains in solitary confinement and has not been allowed to contact his family.
Davari has been tortured and coerced into making false statements against former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, along with false statements recanting his Kahrizak Detention Center reports, according to an April 6 report by Reporters and Human Rights Activists.
The report said Davari has waged a hunger strike and has been denied family visits. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters Web site published an April 23 letter from Davari’s mother to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which she detailed torture of the journalist.
Seyed Massoud Lavasani, Shargh, Etemad, Etemad-e-Melli
Imprisoned: September 26, 2009
Massoud Lavasani has worked for many Iranian newspapers, including Shargh, Etemad, Etemad-e-Melli, Kargozaran, as well as Mehr news agency. He was arrested at home in September 2009.
On December 21, 2009, he was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. An appeals court reduced the sentence to six years in prison and 10 years’ suspension from practicing journalism, according to an April 15 article by the Human Rights Activists. The group’s Web site reported that Lavasani waged a hunger strike in March to protest his treatment by prison authorities. His visitation and telephone rights have been suspended.
Javad Mahzadeh, freelance
Imprisoned: October 22, 2009
Mahzadeh, a journalist and novelist, was arrested on his way to work on the orders of the Revolutionary Court’s prosecutor’s office, according to local news reports.
A political analyst and a literary critic who wrote for the Web sites Iranian Diplomacy and Baran, Mahzadeh is well-known in Iran for his novel Take Away Your Laughter. Authorities confiscated a computer from his home, according to news reports. No formal charges have been disclosed. Mahzadeh was sentenced to four years in prison on February 3, according to the Human Rights Activists.
Kouhyar Goudarzi, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: December 20, 2009
Goudarzi, a veteran journalist for the human rights committee, has been charged with moharebeh, or heresy, a capital crime, according to local news reports and the BBC Persian service. Held at Evin Prison, he has also been charged with propagating against the regime and participating in illegal congregations.
Visitors to the prison said Goudarzi’s head was bandaged, although it was not clear how he sustained his injuries, according to the reformist online publication Rooz Online. The human rights committee said judicial authorities have sought to link the organization to external political parties. Kouhyar Goudarzi’s mother told Hammihan News on February 25 that she was allowed to visit for only seven minutes after waiting for hours. Goudarzi told his mother that he is resisting pressure to confess to charges of heresy.
Goudarzi’s mother was informed on March 19 that his temporary detention orders have been extended for two more months, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. According to the same report, Goudarzi is under pressure to reveal passwords to his personal e-mail and to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters’ Web site. According to an April 28 Committee of Human Rights Reporters article, Goudarzi and several other members of the committee were taken to an Evin Prison court to be informed of their charges. Among other crimes, he is accused of “propagation against the regime,” and “congregation and mutiny with intent to disrupt national security.”
Shiva Nazar Ahari, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: December 20, 2009
Nazar Ahari was detained with Saeed Haeri while on a bus from Tehran to Qom to attend the funeral of influential cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri. She had been jailed for four months in the immediate aftermath of the disputed June presidential election and was free on bail when she was rearrested in December.
The reformist Web site Kalame said Nazar Ahari was in solitary confinement at Evin Prison’s Ward 209, where political prisoners are held. In a meeting with the journalist’s family members, a prosecutor claimed that the human rights committee was affiliated with an armed opposition group, Kalame reported.
The Committee of Human Rights Reporters reported on April 28 that Nazar Ahari and several other committee members were taken to an Evin Prison court to be informed of their charges. Among other crimes, she is accused of “propagation against the regime” in her work for the committee’s Web site, and “actions against national security” for her supposed participation in two political gatherings in 2009. Nazar Ahari has said that she was covering the gatherings, according to the Web site of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Mohammad Nourizad, freelance
Imprisoned: December 20, 2009
Nourizad, a blogger and documentary filmmaker, was arrested after he wrote an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urging him to apologize for the government’s post-election conduct, along with an article criticizing the head of Iran’s judiciary, the BBC Persian service reported. Security officers raided Nourizad’s home on January 5, 2010, seizing his computer and documents, according to the pro-opposition news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz.
Nourizad, who is being held at Evin Prison, has waged a hunger strike, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz reported that Nourizad’s wife was denied visitation rights.
Nourizad had once written for Kayhan, a newspaper closely associated with conservative elements in the government, but he distanced himself from the publication after the disputed June presidential election. Kayhan has repeatedly attacked Nourizad and his writing since that time, according to CPJ research.
On April 24, Nourizad wrote another open letter to Khamenei from his prison cell at Evin Prison, criticizing him for his conduct and his treatment of the Iranian people, several news Web sites reported.
Nourizad was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and 50 lashes by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Courts on charges that included “propagation against the regime” and “insulting the Supreme Leader, the president, [and] the head of the judiciary,” the reformist news Web site Kalame reported on April 28. Nourizad’s lawyer, Mohammad Alizadeh Tabatabaee, said he would file an appeal, according to Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz.
Emadeddin Baghi, freelance
Imprisoned: December 23, 2009
Baghi, the prominent Iranian author, journalist, and human rights activist, was arrested after being summoned to the security division of the Revolutionary Court, according to the reformist Ayandeh News Web site.
When Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri died in December, the BBC Persian service aired a two-year old interview that Baghi had conducted with the influential cleric. Baghi was arrested soon after the rebroadcast. The government had sought to clamp down on publicity about Montazeri, who had criticized the conduct of the June presidential election. The warrant for Baghi’s arrest said he was being detained to “prevent abuse of Ayatollah Montazeri’s death.”
Baghi’s family has expressed concern about his health. Relatives posted bail for a temporary furlough in March for the Iranian New Year, but authorities did not agree to his release, according to Advar News Web site, which quoted his wife. The report said that after serving 50 days in solitary confinement, Baghi was moved to a cell with two or three other prisoners. He has been allowed to see his children only once, and his access to telephone calls has been irregular.
Baghi has been arrested numerous times in the past. In 2000, he was sentenced to five and a half years in prison on charges of “questioning Islamic law,” “threatening national security,” and “spreading unsubstantiated news” in articles detailing the roles of intelligence agents in a series of politically motivated murders. He served three years in prison before being released. He was arrested again in 2007 and served several months for “acting against national security,” according to local and international news reports.
According to an April 23 interview with his wife, Fatemeh Kamali, published on the reformist news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz, Baghi has been informed of new charges related to a book he wrote 21 years ago. She said Baghi remains in solitary confinement, where he is denied access to writing materials, telephone calls, and visitation rights.
Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, Kalameh Sabz
Imprisoned: December 23, 2009
Shirazi, editor-in-chief of the now-defunct reformist daily Kalameh Sabz, was taken from his home and brought to an unknown location, according to international news reports. Heb had been arrested but released in the aftermath of the disputed June 2009 presidential election.
In a February 28 interview with news Web site Kalame, Beheshti’s family members expressed concern about a lack of information in the case. They have not been allowed to see him and he has only been allowed to call them once. His son told Kalame that he does not know what charges Beheshti faces. The journalist is being held in solitary confinement, the son said.
Babak Bordbar, Iran Photojournalism Agency
Imprisoned: December 27, 2009
Bordbar, 25, a photojournalist with the Iran Photojournalism Agency (Dourbin), was arrested while photographing street protests, according to Reporters and Human Rights Activists. The reformist new Web site Jonbesh-e-Rah-e Sabz reported that Bordbar is being held in Ward 350 of Evin Prison. Authorities have not disclosed charges or other information about Bordbar’s legal status.
Khalil Darmanki, freelance
Imprisoned: December 27, 2009
The arrest of Darmanki, a well-known literary critic who has worked for numerous publications, was disclosed in a report by the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Darmanki wrote for Sharq, Etemad-e Melli, Asr-e Azadegan, Baya, and Armaghan Farhangi, among other publications, the committee said. He is being held at Evin Prison but no formal charges have been disclosed.
The BBC Persian service reported that a group of more than 100 poets, writers, journalists, and artists had condemned Darmanki’s detention. On April 30, he was among a group of imprisoned journalists to issue an open letter protesting their detention. The letter was published on a number of Web sites.
Badressadat Mofidi, Iranian Journalists Association
Imprisoned: December 29, 2009
Mofidi writes articles and conducts interviews with national and international media outlets as secretary of the Iranian Journalists Association, according to local news reports. She had discussed the government’s press policies in a December 22 interview with the Persian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
No formal charges have been disclosed against her. Rooz Online reported that Mofidi’s family is concerned about her health, and whether she has access to medications for a blood disease. Mofidi’s daughters widely published a letter after a recent visit with their mother in prison. The letter describes “immense psychological and physical pressure, violent and continuous interrogations, solitary confinement, deprivation of phone calls to family, repeated change of prison cells, and an ambiguous legal case.”
Mostafa Dehghan, freelance
Imprisoned: January 8, 2010
Dehghan wrote about social issues for several newspapers and the women’s rights Web site Change for Equality, according to Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz. He is in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, where political prisoners are held.
The Web site Jmin News said Dehghan called his family in mid-January but said he did not know why he had been detained. No formal charges have been disclosed.
Ali Mohammad Eslampour, Navaye Vaght
Imprisoned: February 2, 2010
Eslampour, an editor for the newspaper Navaye Vaght in Kermanshah province and the author of a blog, was arrested on February 2, according to the reformist news Web site Hammihan.
He was summoned to the Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah on charges of “propagating falsehoods with the goal of creating public anxiety,” and “using abusive language through writing in blogs.” Navaye Vaght was supportive of Mir-Hossein Mousavi during his unsuccessful presidential campaign.
Ehsan Mehrabi, reporter, Farhikhtegan
Imprisoned: February 7, 2010
Mehrabi, a parliamentary affairs reporter for the reformist Farhikhtegan newspaper, was arrested at his home on February 7, according to the Nedaye Sabz-e Azadi news Web site. No formal charges have been disclosed. Mehrabi was reported to have been furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year, but an April 24 report by Reporters and Human Rights Activists said he is now in prison.
Mehrabi is in solitary confinement, Rooz Online reported. Mehrabi was granted guardianship orders in February—meaning he could be released in the care of a guardian in lieu of bail—but has not been released.
Hamid Mafi, freelance
Imprisoned: February 9, 2010
Mafi was arrested in the city of Qazvin, according to Rooz Online, but his whereabouts and legal status are unknown.
A political reporter, Mafi wrote for local publications in Qazvin, including Hadis weekly. He also wrote for national publications such as Shargh and reformist papers such as Etemad, Etemad e Melli, and Kargozaran, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Mafi had previously been the political editor of Farhang-e Ashti newspaper in Tehran.
Ali Malihi, Etemad, Irandokht, Shahrvand-e Emruz, and Mehrnameh
Imprisoned: February 9, 2010
Malihi, a journalist for several publications and a council member of the Iranian Students Association (Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), was arrested in February, according to a report by the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
The Web site Advar News reported that Malihi is in solitary confinement in Ward 240 of Evin Prison and has been allowed only one telephone call to his family. No charges have been disclosed. Malihi’s lawyers have not been allowed access to their client, according to an April 20 report by the reformist news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz.
Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz and others published a February petition signed by 250 civil society activists demanding Malihi’s release and stating that he is a journalist who is not involved in politics. In a March 14 letter to Tehran’s prosecutor, Malihi’s father detailed torture that the journalist has endured at Evin Prison, according to Advar News.
Hengameh Shahidi, Etemad e Melli
Imprisoned: February 25, 2010
Shahidi faces charges of “propagating against the regime, mutiny, illegal congregation, membership in an organization that has acted against national security, and insulting the president,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Shahidi was previously arrested on June 30, 2009, and released on bail equivalent to US$90,000 on October 31, 2009. In November, a court sentenced her to six years and three months in prison. She was released pending an appeal.
On February 24, 2010, Branch 54 of the Revolutionary Courts affirmed her sentence, dropping only the charge of “insulting the president.” Shahidi was taken into custody the following day, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Shahidi worked for Mehdi Karroubi’s presidential campaign and has written about Iranian and international politics, human rights, and specifically women’s rights. She is known as a reformist journalist and has written many articles in support of campaigns to halt the practice of stoning. Shahidi spent several days at Evin Prison’s infirmary, according to an April 26 report on Saham News. Shahidi’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaee, told Kalame that he has requested a retrial.
Navid Khanjani, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: March 2, 2010
Navid Khanjani was arrested in Isfahan and placed in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Several other members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters have also been jailed.
Khanjani has faced immense pressure and lengthy interrogations at Evin Prison, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Khanjani is a member of the Bahai faith and has advocated on behalf of Bahai students who have been deprived of education. The Bahai faith is outlawed in Iran.
Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, Bahar Ahvaz Weekly
Imprisoned, March 3, 2010
Abedini, who frequently writes about labor issues, was arrested in Ahvaz and transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the Reporters and Human Rights Activists News Agency. He was held in solitary confinement and subjected to interrogation without access to a lawyer, according to an open letter from his mother that was published on several news Web sites. She said he was in poor physical and psychological health.
An Ahvaz court sentenced Abedini to 11 years in prison, Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz reported on April 6. Abedini, who was not represented by a lawyer at trial, was sentenced to five years in prison for “contact with enemy states,” five years for his “membership in the organization Human Rights Activists in Iran” and one year for “giving interviews to foreign media.” Reports in the semi-official Fars news agency allege that Human Rights Activists in Iran wants the “soft overthrow” of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mojtaba Gahestooni, freelance
Imprisoned: March 5, 2010
Gahestooni, the author of a blog about the care and upkeep of historical sites in Ahvaz province, was arrested by security forces at his home, according to the Web site of Reporters and Human Rights Activists. Considered an authority on the topic, he has been critical of Iran’s management of national heritage sites, the Web site reported. No formal charges have been disclosed.
FURLOUGHED AS OF MAY 1
Saeed Laylaz, Sarmayeh
Imprisoned: June 17, 2009
Laylaz, editor of the daily business journal Sarmayeh and a vocal critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic policies, was arrested at home on June 17, his wife, Sepharnaz Panahi, told the BBC Persian service. She said that officers searched their home and confiscated videotapes, hard drives, and letters.
He spent 100 days in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison before being moved to a group cell, where he was denied newspapers, pen, and paper, his wife told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Laylaz was charged with “congregation and mutiny against national security, propagating against the regime, disrupting public order, and keeping classified documents,” according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
After a two-hour trial in November, he was sentenced to nine years in prison, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency and other online accounts. His wife told the news Web site Kalame that the “classified document” that was a centerpiece of the prosecution was actually a published and widely available investigation into the Iranian judiciary.
An appeals hearing on March 15 reduced Laylaz’s sentence to six years. Laylaz was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year after posting bail equivalent to US$500,000, according to the opposition news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz.
Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, freelance
Imprisoned: June 19, 2009
Amouee, a contributor to reformist newspapers such as Mihan, Hamshahri, Jame’e, Khordad, Norooz, and Sharq, and the author of an eponymous blog, was arrested with his wife, Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, according to news reports. Bani-Yaghoub, editor-in-chief of the Iranian Women’s Club, a news Web site focusing on women’s rights, was released on bail on August 19, 2009, according to the BBC Persian service.
Amouee was being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison, part of the time in solitary confinement, according to news reports. Amouee’s wife said the journalist was denied access to his family and lawyer for several weeks, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
On January 5, Amouee was sentenced to 34 lashes, along with seven years and four months in prison. His wife told Rooz Online in February that Amouee had been sharing a 115-square-foot (35-square-meter) cell with 40 other prisoners. An appeals court reduced Amouee’s sentence to five years in prison on March 7, according to Rooz Online. He was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year after posting bail equivalent to US$500,000, according to Kalame.
Reza Nourbakhsh, Farhikhtegan
Imprisoned: August 4, 2009
Authorities took Nourbakhsh, editor-in-chief of the reformist newspaper Farhikhtegan, into custody after searching his home, according to news reports. Nourbakhsh also contributed to Jomhoriyat, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Nourbakhsh was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August 2009 on vague antistate accusations, according to news reports. He was sentenced to six years in prison on November 3, 2009, although the exact charges against him were not disclosed. Nourbakhsh was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail, according to Reporters and Human Rights Activists.
Saeed Jalalifar, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Saeed Kalanaki, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: December 2, 2009
Jalalifar and Kalanaki, who reported on child labor and political prisoner issues, were arrested after being summoned by the Ministry of Information, the reformist news Web site Kalame reported.
Jalalifar, Kalanaki, and several other members of Committee of Human Rights Reporters have been under pressure to confess to ties with the Mojahedeen-e Khalgh, an armed opposition group outside Iran, according to Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz. Members of the committee have been prevented from seeing their attorneys, a right guaranteed under the Iranian Constitution. Two of the other arrested members of the committee, Kouhyar Goudarzi and Mehrdad Rahimi, have been charged with heresy, or moharebeh—a capital crime.
Jalalifar and Kalanaki were the first of several committee journalists to be arrested for their work in exposing alleged human rights violations and government malfeasance. Jalalifar was unable to contact his family during the first 40 days of his confinement, according to the committee’s Web site. The two were furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year after posting bail equivalent to US$100,000 apiece, according to the Human Rights Activists Web site and the news Web site Kalame.
On April 28, the Committee of Human Rights Reporters said that Kalanaki, Jalalifar and several other members of the committee were summoned to an Evin Prison court to be informed of their charges. Kalanaki was accused of “propagation against the regime to serve the interests of opposition groups,” and “insulting the supreme leader.” Jalalifar faces charges of “propagation against the regime,” and “congregation and mutiny with aim to disrupt national security.”
Saeed Haeri, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: December 20, 2009
Haeri was detained with colleague Shiva Nazar Ahari while on a bus from Tehran to Qom to attend the funeral of influential cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri. Haeri’s family was unable to visit the journalist until January 24, according to the Amir Kabir Bulletin, an online student news site critical of the Iranian government.
No formal charges have been disclosed against Haeri. He was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year after posting bail equivalent to US$100,000, according to Kalame. According to an April 28 Committee of Human Rights Reporters article, Haeri and several other members of the committee were summoned to an Evin Prison court to be informed of their charges. Haeri was accused of “propagation against the regime,” and “congregation and mutiny with intent to disrupt national security.”
Arvin Sedaghat Kish, Farhang va Ahang
Imprisoned: December 27, 2009
Sedaghat Kish, a writer for the culture and arts magazine Farhang va Ahang, was the first of three journalists for the monthly publication to be arrested, according to CPJ research. Kish, who is also a musician, wrote for other magazines and Web sites, including Harmony Talk, according to the BBC Persian service. No formal charges have been disclosed. Sedaghat Kish was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail, according to the news Web site Mizan Khabar.
Morteza Kazemian, Jonbesh-e Rah-Sabz
Imprisoned: December 29, 2009
Kazemian has written regularly for the opposition news Web site Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz, the site reported. He was arrested once before, in 2002, in connection with his work for two newspapers that were facing government shutdown at the time.
After serving 60 days in solitary confinement, Kazemian was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail, according to Radio Zamaneh.
Kayvan Mehregan, Etemad
Imprisoned: December 29, 2009
Mehregan is the editor of the political section of the reformist daily Etemad. Authorities arrested him at his office, according to local news reports.
He formally charged with membership in the opposition Nehzat-e Azadi Party, but conservative newspapers and Web sites have also accused him of being affiliated with separatist organizations, according to Mizan News. Mehregan was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year after posting bail equivalent to US$100,000, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Omid Montazeri, freelance
Imprisoned: December 30, 2009
Montazeri faces charges related to his participation in Ashura Day protests on December 28, 2009, along with his published articles and interviews with foreign news outlets, his aunt told the reformist news site Farhang-e Goft-o Goo. The site said Montazeri has denied all charges. Montazeri is being tried along with 15 other people, some of whom face charges as serious as the capital crime of moharebeh, or heresy.
Defense attorneys were obstructed in their initial efforts to confer with Montazeri and review his file, the journalist’s sister told the U.S. government-funded Radio Farda. Government media have published Montazeri’s “confessions,” which his sister said appear to be coerced. She said she is deeply concerned about the physical and psychological conditions in which her brother is being held.
Montazeri was arrested a day after his mother, peace activist Mahin Fahimi was taken into custody, according to Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz Web site. Montazeri’s father was executed for his political activities in 1988. Montazeri was sentenced to six years in prison on February 27, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
News reports said Montazeri was furloughed in April on unspecified bail.
Mehrdad Rahimi, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: January 1, 2010
Mehrdad Rahimi and Parisa Kakaee, journalists for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, were arrested after being summoned by the Ministry of Information, the reformist news Web site Kalame reported. Several other committee journalists have been arrested for their work in exposing alleged human rights violations and government malfeasance. Kakaee was released in late February.
Rahimi told his family that interrogators said he would be charged with the capital crime, moharebeh, or heresy, Kalame said. The charge was formally announced in late January, according to the BBC Persian service. In a February 21 article, the Committee of Human Rights Reporters said Rahimi has been under pressure to make a confession. Rahimi was was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on bail equivalent to US$100,000, according to Kalame.
Mehraneh Atashi, freelance
Imprisoned: January 11, 2010
Atashi, a freelance photographer, and her husband were arrested at their home, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Farda and other news sources. Agents seized some of the couple’s personal items, including their computer, news reports said.
Atashi, 30, has worked for several domestic publications, such as Soroush Javan and Hamshahri Javan, according to Kalame Web site, and her work has been exhibited in the United States and Europe. Information about her husband has not been disclosed, nor has any information concerning charges against either of them. Atashi was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail, according to the Feminist School Web site.
Lili Farhadpour, freelance
Imprisoned: January 21, 2010
Farhadpour, a veteran journalist who has written about cultural and social issues for reformist newspapers, was arrested by security forces at her home. She is also the mother of Behrang Tonekaboni, editor-in-chief of Fahang va Ahang, who was arrested on January 6. Behrang Tonekaboni was released on February 28.
No formal charges have been disclosed against Farhadpour. She was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year after posting bail equivalent to US$90,000, according to Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz Web site.
Nooshin Jafari, Etemad
Imprisoned: February 3, 2010
One of the youngest imprisoned journalists at 22, Jafari is a reporter with Etemad’s arts and culture section. According to the Web site of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, she was arrested shortly after midnight at her home. Security officers searched the premises and confiscated personal items including her computer.
Jafari is a founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, although she has not been involved with the organization’s Web site since she started writing for Etemad. No formal charges have been disclosed. Jafari was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year under a custodial arrangement, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Naeemeh Doostdar, Jam-e-Jam
Imprisoned: February 6, 2010
Doostdar is a journalist, writer, and poet who wrote for the arts and culture section of the conservative pro-government daily Jam-e-Jam. Prior to working for Jam-e-Jam, she worked with Farhang Radio and for magazines in the Hamshahri publishing group, which is owned by the city of Tehran. Doostdar was transferred to Evin Prison after her arrest, according to Rooz Online.
The Web site of Reporters and Human Rights Activists, an organization that covers human rights abuses inside Iran, reported that no formal charges against Doostdar have been disclosed. Doostdar was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail.
Akbar Montajebi, Etemad
Imprisoned: February 7, 2010
Montajebi is an experienced journalist working most recently for the opposition daily Etemad. He has also written for numerous reformist and opposition publications, including Sobh-e Emruz and Shargh.
Montajebi was arrested at 2 a.m. at his home, according to the reformist Web site Nedaye Sabz Azadi. In an interview with Rooz Online, his wife expressed concern about Montajebi’s detention. The journalist’s wife has multiple sclerosis, and she said her condition has worsened since her husband’s arrest. Montajebi was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail.
Somayeh Momeni, Nasim-e Bidari
Imprisoned: February 7, 2010
Momeni, a journalist with Nasim-e Bidari magazine and a women’s rights activist was arrested by security officers at 3 a.m. at her home, according to Reporters and Human Rights Activists. Momeni had previously worked as a reporter for the ISNA news agency, reported Nedaye Sabz e Azadi, a pro-opposition news Web site. No formal charges have been disclosed. Momeni was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year on unspecified bail.
Vahid Pourostad, freelance
Imprisoned: February 9, 2010
Pourostad, a well-known Iranian journalist who has published several books, was arrested at home on a warrant issued by the Tehran prosecutor’s office, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. His home was later searched and his laptop computer and handwritten notes were confiscated. Arresting officers did not give his family reasons for his arrest. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Poorostad called his home at the end of February and said he was in Ward 240 of Evin Prison.
Pourostad served on the editorial boards of Mosharekat, Yas-e No, and Vaghaye Ettefaghieh newspapers and wrote for reformist newspapers Etemad e Melli, Mosharekat, Salam, and Farhikhtegan, according to another news item by the human rights group.
Pourostad is the author and producer of a book series related to legal documents pertaining to the Iranian press. He was furloughed in March for the Iranian New Year under a custodial arrangement, according to the BBC.