Washington, D.C., August 16, 2023—Iranian authorities must release journalist Ali Moslehi from prison immediately and cease jailing members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On July 20, intelligence agents arrested Moslehi, a political columnist for the local news website KashanNews, at his home in the central city of Kashan, according to news reports and a person familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Security forces called the journalist’s family later that day to inform them of his arrest, that person said. Authorities held Moslehi in an undisclosed location without access to his family or a lawyer until Monday, August 14, when he was transferred to Kashan Central Prison and given permission to call his family for the first time, according to the exile-run Human Rights Activists News Agency.
Authorities have not informed Moslehi or his family of any charges against him, according to the person who spoke to CPJ.
“Iranian authorities must release columnist Ali Moslehi immediately and unconditionally, and cease arbitrarily detaining members of the press,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “The utter lack of information about Moslehi’s detention and imprisonment shows how Iranian authorities fail to meet even the lowest standards of transparency.”
The journalist has not been allowed to hire a lawyer and authorities have not responded to his family’s request to visit Moslehi in prison, according to the person familiar with his case.
Moslehi was previously arrested in 2012 over articles he wrote in support of protests over Iran’s 2009 election; he was detained for two months, and released on bail without a trial, that person said.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment on Moslehi’s arrest and imprisonment but did not receive any reply.
Iran ranked as the world’s worst jailer of journalists when CPJ conducted its most recent worldwide census of imprisoned journalists on December 1, 2022. Overall, Iranian authorities detained at least 95 journalists in the wake of nationwide protests following the death in morality-police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September. Many have been released on bail while awaiting trial or summonses to serve multi-year sentences.