Journalist extradited from Turkey and sentenced to 10 years in Iran

December 18, 2019 11:09 AM ET

A fishmonger pictured at a bazaar in the Iranian city of Rasht, in March 2011. In 2018, Turkey extradited a journalist from Rasht whom authorities later sentenced to 10 years in prison for his work. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

Turkish intelligence agents arrested Arash Shoa-Shargh, an Iranian journalist living in exile in Turkey, on January 5, 2018, in Van, a city near Iran’s border, a friend of the journalist, who asked not to be named to protect their safety, told CPJ on December 16, 2019.

Shoa-Shargh, who was registered as a refugee with UNHCR in Turkey, worked for Amad News, a popular anti-government news channel on the messaging app Telegram, the unnamed friend told CPJ.

Amad News reports on allegations of corruption and protests to roughly 1.4 million followers on Telegram. Authorities detained its founder, Roohollah Zam in October 2019, according to CPJ research.

Turkish authorities detained Shoa-Shargh for 25 days before extraditing him to Iran, where he was held in various prisons and spent at least 95 days in solitary confinement, according to his friend and news reports.

In the summer of 2018, Iranian authorities charged Shoa-Shargh with “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “acting against national security,” “encouraging the public to misconduct,” and “spreading corruption on the land of God,” in connection with his work for Amad News, the unnamed friend said. The journalist was sentenced to death.

In September 2018, a court commuted Shoa-Shargh’s sentence to 10 years in prison, the journalist’s friend said, adding that authorities have pressured the journalist’s family to not publicize his case.

At around the time of Shoa-Shargh’s arrest, the site had been sharing footage and news about protests.

Shoa-Shargh started his journalism career in 2007 in Gilan province, where he worked for several publications including the state-run news website Khazaronline.

He left Iran for Turkey on August 18, 2017 after a court ordered that the journalist be lashed for “spreading lies” and “publishing without permission,” over an article that alleged a member of parliament was involved in environmental corruption, according to reports and the journalist’s friend.

Iran and Turkey in 2019 strengthened their cooperation in several areas, including border security and law enforcement, according to reports.

In late 2019, Shoa-Shargh was detained in Lakan prison, in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, the source said.

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