Investigative journalist Mehdi Afshar-Nik, whose reporting focused on oil, energy, and the economy, was detained by Iranian security forces on January 31. (Photo credit withheld)

Iranian reporter Mehdi Afshar-Nik held incommunicado since January 31

Washington, D.C., February 6, 2024—Iranian authorities should immediately release investigative journalist Mehdi Afshar-Nik, whose whereabouts remain unknown since his arrest, and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

Around midnight on January 31, two plain-clothed agents of the Iranian security forces raided Afshar-Nik’s home, ransacked his apartment, confiscated his personal belongings such as electronic devices and arrested Afshar-Nik, a freelance reporter, in the Iranian capital, Tehran, according to news reports and a source familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of the anonymity due to the fear of government reprisal. According to the source, the agents had an arrest warrant for Afshar-Nik. CPJ was unable to determine where Afshar-Nik was being held or whether he had been formally charged.

“Iranian authorities must immediately disclose the location of investigative journalist Mehdi Afshar-Nik, who has not been seen or heard from since he was arrested, free him, and drop any charges against him,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must realize that repeatedly arresting and detaining journalists like Afshar-Nik won’t stop them from reporting on vital community issues such as Iran’s economy.”

Afshar-Nik, whose reporting focused on oil, energy, and the economy, had most recently worked for the state-run newspapers Etemad and Shargh Daily, those sources said. The journalist was previously arrested several times in recent years, according to CPJ’s source. 

Iran was the world’s sixth-worst jailer of journalists in CPJ’s most recent annual prison census, with 17 imprisoned journalists as of December 1, 2023.

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