In this September 20, 2022 photo obtained by The Associated Press outside Iran, protesters throw stones at anti-riot police during a protest over the death of a young woman who had been detained for violating the country's conservative dress code, in downtown Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo)

Iranian photojournalist Yalda Moaiery arrested during anti-state protests 

Washington, D.C., September 20, 2022—Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Yalda Moaiery, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On Monday, September 19, Iranian security forces arrested Moaiery, a prominent photojournalist, as she was covering anti-state protests on Hejab street in downtown Tehran, Iran’s capital, she said on Instagram Stories directly after her arrest. (CPJ reviewed her story before its automatic 24-hour expiry.)   

Her father, Gholamreza Moaiery, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, confirmed the arrest. 

Over the past several days, Iranians across the country have protested against the death Friday of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who was in the custody of morality police after allegedly violating Iran’s compulsory hijab law.  

“Iranian authorities must understand that they can’t hide the country’s nationwide anti-state protests by jailing journalists,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities must free photojournalist Yalda Moaiery immediately and unconditionally and cease the practice of arbitrarily locking up members of the press at this critical moment for Iran.”

According to Moaiery’s Instagram story, security forces beat her when they arrested her, and later shoved her into a police van with tens of female protesters before taking her to a location they did not disclose. On the Instagram story, Moaiery said she was posting from inside the van. 

She wrote: “In the event that anything happens to me [while in custody] it is the responsibility of the ruling system.”

Moaiery’s father told CPJ that she is detained in Qarchak prison, a female-only detention facility in the city of Varamin, southeast of Tehran. 

Moaiery’s photographs have been published by international magazines and newspapers such as Time, Newsweek, Le Monde, and El Pais, according to her biography on her website. She made headlines in 2019 when she spoke out against then-U.S. president Donald Trump’s tweet of a photo she took of a protest. CPJ was unable to determine which news outlet Moaiery was working for at the time of her arrest. 

CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations for comment, but did not receive a response. CPJ also called Qarchak prison, but no one answered.

At least five protesters have been killed during the protests so far, according to CNN, citing exile-based Iranian human rights group Hengaw Organization for Human Rights. 

Editor’s note: The sixth paragraph of this report has been updated to clarify that Moaiery was reporting on the protest, not taking part in it.