An activist holds an Iranian flag in a protest in Berlin, September 3, 2016. (Reuters/Stefanie Loos)
An activist holds an Iranian flag in a protest in Berlin, September 3, 2016. (Reuters/Stefanie Loos)

Iranian editor held months without access to lawyer

Iranian security forces raided the home of Tahereh Riahi, social affairs editor at Iran’s government-funded Borna News Agency, and detained her on December 27, 2016, according to media reports and human rights groups. Two months after her arrest, the journalist was still held in Evin Prison near Tehran.

The news website Zeytoun reported her arrest in a brief news item at the time. Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency reported at the time that the journalist was suspected of “propagandizing against the state,” though she was not formally charged with any crime. According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group, prison guards on February 13 briefly allowed the journalist speak with her family on the phone. She told them “not to wait for her,” the center reported.

In late February, the Iranian diaspora news website Iran Wire and the Farsi service of the U.S.-government-funded broadcaster Voice of America quoted unnamed sources as saying that interrogators physically abused Riahi, injuring her left eye. Borna’s public relations office disputed those claims in a statement. The news agency is funded by Iran’s Youth and Sports Ministry.

Prior to working at Borna, Riahi had worked for several reformist newspapers, including Sharq and Mardom Emrooz, according to the reformist new website Kaleme. Security forces arrested her following Iran’s 2009 presidential elections.

Iran is scheduled to hold presidential elections again in May. Iranian authorities have cracked down on independent or critical journalists ahead of past elections, CPJ research shows.