Iran detains freelance photographer and culture reporter Nooshin Jafari

Washington, D.C., August 12, 2019–Iranian authorities arrested Nooshin Jafari, a photojournalist and culture reporter, outside her home in Tehran on August 3 as she was on her way to work. Jafari, a cinema and theater photographer who reports on culture for several Iranian magazines, was taken to an unknown location, according to news reports. Authorities have not announced any charges.

“Iranian authorities must immediately release Nooshin Jafari and return all of her equipment or disclose the charges against her,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “It is outrageous for Iran to hold a journalist in an unknown location, for no reason, and with no contact with her family, for more than a week.”

Jafari’s family did not publicly report the date of her arrest until late last week, when news of the arrest broke on Twitter. A photograph of an Iranian judiciary document that circulated on social media recorded that authorities searched Jafari’s home on August 3 and confiscated 35 items, including her phone, memory drives, and cameras.

Jafari’s family has not been able to contact her since her arrest, and her whereabouts are unknown, according to a report published on the Telegram channel of pro-opposition news website Amad News. The judiciary document photographed and circulating on social media did not include reasons for the arrest.

Some social media accounts affiliated with apparent hardliners spread unsubstantiated accusations that Jafari ran an anti-state Twitter account. A person close to Jafari who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal denied those claims, telling CPJ, “Nooshin is just a photojournalist and didn’t have any private or public account on social media, including on Twitter.”

Jafari was previously arrested in 2009, when she was working at the reformist daily newspaper Etemad as an arts and culture reporter, according to CPJ research. In 2016, she won a national award for her photography on the Iranian film Lantouri, the U.S.-based Iranian human rights group Human Rights Activist News Agency reported. Several Iranian celebrities have tweeted since her arrest to demand her release.