Police are seen near Tehran, Iran, on August 16, 2021. Police in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr recently arrested photojournalist Rahil Mousavi. (Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters)

Iranian photojournalist Rahil Mousavi arrested on unspecified charges

Washington, D.C., November 11, 2021 — Iranian authorities should immediately release Arab Iranian photojournalist Rahil Mousavi, drop any charges against her, and let her work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On November 9, security forces with the Intelligence Ministry arrested Mousavi, a freelance photojournalist, in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr, in the majority Arab province of Khuzestan, and took her to an undisclosed location, according to reports by the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency and the exile-run news website IranWire.

Authorities have not specified the reason for her arrest or disclosed any charges against her, according to those reports.

“Iranian authorities must free photojournalist Rahil Mousavi immediately and unconditionally, and let her do her job documenting the lives of Arab minorities in Iran,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Journalists must be able to work without fear that they will be arbitrarily detained.”

On her Instagram account, where she has about 5,300 followers, Mousavi frequently posts photos depicting Arab Iranians struggling with poverty and climate issues. She has contributed photos to UNICEF, the International Federation of Photographic Art, and the New York-based Middle East Images photo agency, according to her Instagram bio.

A source familiar with the case told CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, that Mousavi “publishes most of her photos on social media such as Instagram, as local media outlets refuse to publish her content for fear that it will create problems for them with Iran’s censors.”

Mousavi was previously arrested on December 8, 2016, by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who detained her while she covered a street protest in Khorramshahr over water rights, according to Journalism Is Not A Crime, an exile-run website.

CPJ called the office of the Khorramshahr judiciary for comment, but no one answered