A Tehran marketplace as pictured on December 30, 2020. Two journalists were arrested in Iran in late January; one has since been released. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iran arrests journalist Reza Taleshian Jelodarzadeh

Washington, D.C., February 5, 2021—Iranian authorities must release journalist Reza Taleshian Jelodarzadeh and stop arresting members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

On January 20, Jelodarzadeh, editor-in-chief of the Tehran-based Nour-e Azadi magazine, wrote on his Instagram account that he had been arrested by Iranian authorities and was being transferred to Greater Tehran Prison. He also posted a photo of his shackled feet. CPJ was unable to determine his location at the time of his arrest. 

According to exile-run Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) and the Amsterdam-based, Persian-language Radio Zamaneh, Jelodarzadeh was taken into custody to serve a three-year prison sentence dating to June 2019 for “disturbing public opinion” and “spreading anti-establishment propaganda” in part in relation to posts on Instagram and Telegram. According to HRANA, he was not imprisoned immediately after his sentencing, which also included a two-year ban on political, social, and journalistic activity. 

Jelodarzadeh was previously the editor-in-chief of Sobh-e Azadi magazine, which covered politics, the economy, and social and cultural issues, before it was banned in 2011 for publishing a photo of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had a tense relationship with the regime, according to  exile-run outlet PeykeiranThe magazine relaunched in 2017 as Nour-e Azadi with Jelodarzadeh as editor-in-chief, according to the International Federation of Journalists

“Iranian authorities must free Reza Taleshian Jelodarzadeh immediately and unconditionally,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Iran’s continued jailing of journalists on vague charges is an outrageous form of censorship that must end.”

In a separate incident, Mahmoud Mahmoudi, editor of the Kurdish-focused outlet Aigrin Roj Weekly, was arrested from his home in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province in western Iran, by Iranian security forces and transferred to an undisclosed location, according to the exile-run Center of Democracy and Human Rights in Kurdistan and HRANA. The two outlets published different dates of arrest; the former said it was January 31 and the latter said it was January 30. 

Mahmoudi was charged with having contact with anti-regime channels, HRANA reported. After his arrest, he was not allowed to contact his family or access legal representation according to reports in human-rights focused outlets. He was released on bail on February 4, HRANA and the exile-based IranWire reported. 

Mahmoudi is one of the signatories of a letter published in Iran-focused news outlet Akhbar Rooz in late January in protest of the recent wave of arrests of civil, student, and environmental activists in Iran’s Kurdistan province. CPJ has previously reported on journalists harassed by Iranian authorities in 2019 after signing a public letter condemning a state crackdown on political protesters. 

CPJ emailed Alireza Miryousefi, the head of the media office at Iran’s Mission to the United Nations, for comment on Mahmoudi and Jelodarzadeh’s cases but did not receive any response.

CPJ was unable to locate contact information for either journalists’ outlet or for their family members.