Iranian editor, social media moderator detained

Security forces arrested Morad Saghafi from his home in Tehran on March 16, 2017, according to the official ILNA news agency, but to date have not made public any charges against him or the reason for his arrest. Saghafi is the editor of Goftegoo Magazine, which focuses on culture and social sciences. In a March 9 speech at seminar on local affairs, Saghafi criticized Iranian officials, whom he did not name, as having “unchecked powers” and accused local authorities of running Tehran in a “corrupt and dictatorial” manner. He urged voters to support candidates who committed to fighting corruption in city council elections scheduled for May.

Separately, Iranian authorities also arrested Ali Ahmadnia, the moderator of the Eslahtat News (“Reform News”) channel on the encrypted messaging program Telegram at some point between March 14-16, according to media reports and human rights groups. It was not immediately clear whether Ahmadnia had been charged. Telegram is a popular source of news in Iran, but CPJ has also documented significant vulnerabilities that can put journalists using the platform at risk.

The arrests are part of a crackdown against journalists ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May. CPJ has documented the Iranian government’s moves against journalists in past election cycles.