Demonstrators light fires during a Tehran protest on September 21, 2022, over the death of Mahsa Amini while she was in the custody of the country's morality police. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Iranian security forces step up arrests of journalists amid anti-state protests  

Editor’s note: This report was updated on September 29 to include news of additional arrests. See here for ongoing updates to the list of journalists arrested after that date.

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2022—The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists arrested while covering mass protests around the country and restore blocked internet access.

CPJ has learned from multiple sources inside Iran that as of Thursday, September 29, at least 28 journalists had been arrested as clashes between security forces and protesters left dozens dead. Details of arrests are sparse amid an internet blackout and major disruptions to phone and social media networks, but CPJ’s sources said that several of the journalists were taken into custody during post-midnight raids on their homes. The sources said that the security forces – who confiscated the journalists’ electronic devices – did not identify which agency they represented or produce arrest warrants or explanation of charges.

The protests began last week over the death in morality-police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly violating the country’s conservative dress law.

“Iranian authorities must immediately release all journalists arrested because of their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death and the protests that have followed,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Iranian security forces must drop their repressive measures against the journalists telling this critical story and restore the internet access that is vital to keep the public informed.”

Recent arrests include freelance reporter Sarvenaz Ahmadi and well-known blogger Seyed Hossein Ronaghi Maleki. According to a tweet by Ronaghi’s friend and former colleague, exiled Iranian journalist, Masoud Kazemi, the blogger told his mother in a call on Monday, September 26 that security forces had beaten him and broken his leg while in custody. 

CPJ emailed requests for comment on the arrests to the Iran missions based in Geneva, Switzerland, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York, but did not receive a response.

See CPJ’s list of arrested journalists