A riot police vehicle is seen in Tehran, Iran, on October 3, 2022. Authorities recently imprisoned journalist Hossein Yazdi in Isfahan. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Iranian journalist Hossein Yazdi held at Isfahan Central Prison

Washington, D.C., July 6, 2023 — Iranian authorities must release journalist Hossein Yazdi from prison immediately and cease jailing members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday. 

On Tuesday, July 4, Yazdi responded to a summons at a court in his hometown of Isfahan. When he arrived, authorities arrested him and transferred him to Isfahan Central Prison, according to news reports and a source familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, due to fear of reprisal.

Yazdi, editor-in-chief of news website IranTimes and the news director of the Mobin24 news channel, was previously arrested on December 5, 2022, and detained for more than two months over his coverage of anti-government protests, for which he was charged with “spreading propaganda against the system.” He was released on bail in February.

The person who spoke to CPJ said that Yazdi’s 2022 arrest carried a one-year prison term, but said it was unclear whether his detention Tuesday was the start of that term or a separate detention.

“With the imprisonment of journalist Hossein Yazdi, Iranian authorities are showing yet again their willingness to harass and abuse members of the press, even amid strict international condemnation,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Authorities must release Yazdi and all other journalists held for their work.”

When mass anti-state protests swept Iran following the death in morality-police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in September 2022, authorities arrested at least 95 journalists, making Iran the world’s worst jailer of journalists in CPJ’s 2022 prison census. Many journalists received harsh sentences related to those arrests and about 80 were released on bail; authorities have recently begun summoning them to start their sentences.

Separately, on May 31, freelance reporters and sisters Zahra Tohidi and Hoda Tohidi began serving one-year terms at Tehran’s Evin Prison on charges of propaganda and “assembly and collusion against national security.”

On May 10, freelance reporter Kamiar Fakour and his wife, reporter Sarvenaz Ahmadi, also began sentences at Evin Prison. Fakour was sentenced to eight months on propaganda charges, and Ahmadi was sentenced to 3.5 years on charges of spreading propaganda and collusion against national security.

CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment on Yazdi’s case and other imprisoned Iranian journalists but did not receive any reply.