Police are seen in Tehran, Iran, on August 16, 2021. Authorities recently imprisoned Soltan-Ali Abedi for one year for "false news" and "defamation." (Reuters/Majid Asgaripour/WANA)

Iranian journalist Soltan-Ali Abedi jailed for 1 year for corruption reports

Washington, D.C., December 7, 2023—Iranian authorities must immediately release journalist Soltan-Ali Abedi, who is serving a one-year sentence for his reporting on mismanagement and corruption among local officials, and cease jailing journalists for simply doing their job, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On Monday, Abedi, editor-in-chief of the local news website Diyareayyar.ir, was arrested and taken to prison in the southeastern city of Zahedan, according to a person familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals, and the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a U.S.-based outlet that covers news in Iran.

Abedi was responding to a summons from Zahedan Criminal Court to begin serving his sentence, after an appeal against his 2022 conviction failed, those sources said.

In 2022, Adebi was found guilty of the crimes of “false news” and “defamation” for his reports about the mismanagement and corruption of local officials and given a one-year sentence.

Abedi had been arrested and detained multiple times since 2021 after publishing critical reports about Sistan and Baluchestan province, addressing issues such as water shortages and the governor’s performance, according to the person familiar with the case.

In 2021, he was threatened by city council officials and then beaten up by a group of unknown attackers after publishing a critical report about Zahedan’s city council, that person said.

“Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Soltan-Ali Abedi and cease the practice of arbitrarily locking up members of the press for reporting on matters of public interest,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Journalists must be able to work without fear of arrest and detention for covering news about officials.”

CPJ’s email to Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not receive any reply.