Washington, D.C., September 14, 2022 — Iranian authorities must release journalist Mansour Iranpour from prison immediately and should cease jailing members of the press for doing their jobs, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On January 16, Judge Moslem Salari of Branch 2 of Jiroft city penal court in Iran’s central Kerman province convicted Iranpour on charges of spreading false news on his social media accounts and through articles he wrote for the partially government-funded Ashkan News and the state-run Tabnak news site and sentenced him to one year in prison, according to a report by Human Rights in Iran, an exile-based rights group, and a source familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal. In April, a Kerman province appeals court upheld Iranpour’s sentence, according to the same sources.
In May, the main judiciary office in Kerman province summoned Iranpour and when he arrived, he was arrested and transferred to Kerman central prison in the city of Kerman to serve his sentence, according to the same sources, which did not specify the date in May. The journalist’s term began the day of his arrest. CPJ learned of the case in September.
“Iranian authorities must immediately release journalist Mansour Iranpour and ensure that he does not face any further retaliation over his work,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “The sentencing of a journalist to one year in prison is yet another example of the country’s blatant disregard for freedom of the press.”
Iranpour’s conviction stemmed from his reporting criticizing local government officials and alleging financial corruption and embezzlement on the part of different government offices in the city, according to the same sources. The anonymous source told CPJ that some of Iranpour’s investigative reporting focused on a Kernan province representative who serves in parliament.
According to the Human Rights in Iran report and the source who spoke to CPJ, Iranpour, a reporter and columnist at Ashkan News and a contributor to Tabnak, is a former Iranian soldier and suffers from several health issues including heart disease and diabetes. According to the anonymous source, Iranpour was beaten up in custody, though the source did not say how, and now suffers gangrene in his foot and is being denied medical attention.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has a strong presence in Kerman province and many of its officials have been appointed to local government positions, according to the Iranian Students News Agency, a state news outlet.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment, but did not receive any reply.