Washington, D.C., February 13, 2023 – Iranian authorities must drop any charges against freelance Kurdish journalist Siamand Mohtadi and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On Saturday, February 11, authorities arrested Mohtadi after raiding his home in the Kurdish city of Bukan, in West Azerbaijan province, and took him to an undisclosed location, according to news reports. Authorities confiscated Mohtadi’s phone, laptop, and some personal items during the raid, according to those reports and a person familiar with his case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Mohtadi works with Kurdish media outlets including the newspapers Bokan and KurdistanyNwe, and the Kurdish entertainment TV channel Khak TV, which is affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan political party, according to the person familiar with his case.
That person said Mohtadi had discussed the death in morality-police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, and the subsequent nationwide protests, on Iraqi-Kurdish TV broadcasters. CPJ was unable to immediately determine where Mohtadi is being held or whether any charges have been filed against him.
“Iranian authorities must free journalist Siamand Mohtadi immediately and unconditionally and cease the practice of arbitrarily locking up members of the press,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Mohtadi is nearly the 100th journalist arrested since protests began in Iran last year. Members of the press must be allowed to work without living in constant fear that they will be harassed and detained.”
Security forces interrogated Mohtadi multiple times in recent weeks, according to those news reports.
Mohtadi suffers from a preexisting head injury and underwent two surgeries in recent months, and authorities did not allow him to bring medications with him when he was arrested, the person familiar with his case said.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations for comment but did not receive any response.