Hasan Abbasi is the latest journalist to be arrested in Iran, a nation cited as a top jailer of journalists by CPJ. More journalists were charged in recent weeks in connection with reporting on the funeral of 16-year-old Armita Geravand, shown here being removed from a train in Tehran by morality police in October. She died a short time after the confrontation. (Photo: AP/Iranian state television)

Iranian journalist Hasan Abbasi rearrested and held incommunicado

Washington, D.C., January 4, 2024—Iranian authorities should immediately release journalist Hasan Abbasi, whose whereabouts are unknown since his arrest, and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On Tuesday, security forces arrested Abbasi, a freelance investigative reporter, in a public location in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan Province, according to news reports. CPJ was unable to determine where Abbasi was being held or whether he had been formally charged.

“Iranian authorities must immediately disclose the location of investigative journalist Hasan Abbasi, who has not been seen or heard from since he was arrested, free him, and drop any charges,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must realize that repeatedly arresting and detaining journalists like Abbasi won’t stop them from reporting on vital issues in their communities.”

Abbasi was previously arrested on April 30, 2023, detained for one week, and charged with disturbing the public order and spreading false news on social media after the governor of Hormozgan Province filed a lawsuit against him over his critical reporting, according to the exile-run Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

In recent weeks, six journalists— Maryam Shokrani, Sara Massoumi, Milad Alavi, Matin Ghaffarian, Omid Tosheh, and Zeinab Rahimi—who reported on the death and funeral of 16-year-old Armita Geravand in October have been charged with “false news” or “spreading propaganda against the system,” according to news reports.

Geravand died after falling into a coma while in the Tehran Metro. Her head was uncovered, in violation of the mandatory Islamic dress code. Iran has denied that she was injured in a confrontation with the morality police.

Massoumi was sentenced on December 20 to six months in prison and a two-year ban from journalism for publishing false information after she posted one tweet about Geravand.

Alavi was among about 80 journalists who were arrested in early 2023, after mass protests swept Iran following the death in morality-police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Separately, on December 19, 2023, journalist Hadi Kasaeizadeh was arrested after responding to a summons to appear at the Qodousi Courthouse in Tehran, where he was charged with “false news,” “defamation,” and “disturbing public order,” HRANA reported. On December 23, Kasaeizadeh, who runs the independent news website M-Azadi, was released on bail, the state-run news website Didbaniran.ir reported.

Kasaeizadeh said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that he was facing four separate lawsuits over his reporting.

Iran was the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2022, with 62 imprisoned as of December 1 of that year, according to CPJ’s annual prison census.

CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment but did not receive any response.