On August 12, 2019, intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested freelance photojournalist Forough Alaei and five women’s rights activists, accusing them of attempting to illegally enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, according to a report by the BBC’s Persian service. The six were released on bail on August 17, according to Iranian press freedom group Journalism Is Not a Crime and the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency.
The women were held in Gharchak prison, a female-only detention facility in Varamin, southeast of Tehran, IranWire reported.
Women are severely restricted from attending men’s sporting events in Iran, according to IranWire. Alaei previously documented the activists’ attempts to enter Azadi Stadium to watch soccer games, including by dressing as men, in a series which won a World Press Photo award.
The arrests followed an August 8 declaration by the International Football Federation (FIFA), calling on Iranian authorities to open all soccer matches to female fans, according to the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Farda.
CPJ was able to access Alaei’s professional website on the day of her arrest, but it has since been taken down.