Washington, D.C., November 14, 2023—Iranian authorities must immediately release journalists Nasim Tavafzadeh and Helaleh Nategheh and stop trying to silence journalists by jailing them, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On Saturday, intelligence agents with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested Tavafzadeh, editor-in-chief of the local news website Moroor.org, and Nategheh, an environmental reporter for the outlet, in the northern city of Rasht and took them to an undisclosed location, according to news reports.
The two journalists were among about 20 people who were detained and had their electronic devices confiscated in Saturday’s mass raids in Rasht, according to multiple news reports. The majority of those arrested were women, those sources said.
“It is vitally important for the Iranian people to access truthful reporting on government policies, like the environment,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the two female journalists and the many others arrested in Rasht and realize that censoring the media does nothing to address the challenges that the government is facing.”
At the time of going to press, authorities had not disclosed the reason for detaining Tavafzadeh and Nategheh or the potential charges against the two journalists.
Iran ranked as the world’s worst jailer of journalists when CPJ conducted its most recent census of imprisoned journalists worldwide on December 1, 2022. Iranian authorities detained at least 95 journalists in the wake of nationwide protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody for allegedly violating Iran’s conservative dress law. Many journalists have been released on bail while awaiting trial or have been issued summonses to serve multi-year sentences.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment on Tavafzadeh and Nategheh’s arrests but did not receive any reply.