Washington, D.C., May 4, 2023—Iranian authorities should immediately release journalist Hasan Abbasi and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On April 30, security forces arrested Abbasi, a freelance investigative reporter who covers news in the southern city of Bandar Abbas, in Hormozgan province, according to news reports. His detention was a response to a complaint filed by the province’s governor over his reporting.
Those reports did not specify the exact allegations against the journalist; CPJ was unable to determine where he is being held or whether he had been formally charged.
“Iranian authorities must free journalist Hasan Abbasi immediately and unconditionally and cease the practice of arbitrarily locking up members of the press for doing their jobs,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Authorities must ensure that all journalists are able to cover newsworthy issues without fear that they will be arrested.”
The complaint against Abbasi was filed in response to his coverage of retired sailors who had allegedly failed to receive their government pensions, in the semi-official outlet AshkanNews, those reports said.
On April 26, Abbasi posted a video on his personal Twitter account saying that he was also facing a separate complaint filed by the local office of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade accusing him of spreading “fake news” in his reporting on the ministry.
“Journalists are paying the price for the malfeasance of government officials,” he said in that video.
Abbasi, who previously covered Bandar Abbas for the state-run Tabnak news agency, was also detained on December 22, 2022, for his critical coverage of alleged government corruption, according to the exile-run Human Rights Activist News Agency. He was held for a week and charged with disturbing the public order and spreading false news on social media.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations for comment but did not receive any response.