Iranians walk in a market in Tehran, Iran May 1, 2022. (WANA/Majid Asgaripour)

Iran detains female photojournalist, four female documentary filmmakers

Washington, D.C., May 16, 2022 — Iranian authorities must stop imprisoning and harassing female journalists and should allow all members of the press to cover the news freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

Since May, Iranian authorities have arrested at least one female photojournalist and four female documentary filmmakers, according to news reports and two people familiar with the cases who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns. 

“Iran’s ongoing efforts to silence independent voices have landed five female journalists in prison,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Iranian authorities must understand that they can’t hide the country’s difficult realities by jailing journalists.”  

On Monday, May 9, a group of at least 10 officers who identified themselves as agents of Iran’s ministry of intelligence raided the home of freelance photojournalist Reihane Taravati in Tehran, the capital, and arrested her, according to U.S. Congress-funded Radio Farda and a source familiar with the case. The source told CPJ that the officers confiscated Taravati’s personal devices including her laptop, hard drives, and camera and later raided her photography studio and confiscated additional equipment there.

The source, who spoke to Taravati over the phone in detention, said that Taravati is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison and that she has not been informed of any charges against her. 

Before her arrest, Taravati had recently photographed prominent imprisoned human rights activist Narges Mohammadi while she was on medical furlough. The photo was published by The Washington Post April 6. 

According to the exile-run Human Rights Activists News Agency, Taravati has a suspended one-year sentence against her from a separate case from 2014. 

Also on May 9, four independent documentary filmmakers, Firouzeh Khosravani, Mina Keshavarz, Parisa Anvari, and Shilan Saadi, were all arrested from their homes in Tehran, according to news reports, a post by exiled Iranian journalist Negar Mortazavi on Twitter, and a source familiar with Saadi’s case. CPJ was unable to determine which Iranian authorities arrested them.

The arrest warrants in their cases were issued by the preliminary court known as Shahid Moghadas, which is based inside Evin prison, according to these sources.  

According to a report by the exile-run news website IranWire, Khosravani and Keshavarz are detained in ward 209 of Evin prison, which is under the supervision of the intelligence ministry. According to the report, Khosravani was allowed to make a phone call to her family and inform them of her whereabouts. 

CPJ was unable to determine if the four have been charged. 

CPJ emailed the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment on the arrests but did not receive a response.

The arrests come as Iran is trying to stifle coverage of protests over price increases for basic consumer goods, including by slowing down the internet in some places, according to The New York Times. According to Iraq-based human rights group Hengaw, which covers Kurdish Iranian issues, security forces from Iran’s intelligence ministry and the intelligence wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned more than 100 Kurdish Iranian activists, writers, artists, and social media influencers not to cover the protests. 

CPJ was unable to determine whether Saadi, who is Kurdish Iranian, was arrested in relation to these warnings or if the other journalists were arrested in relation to protest coverage.