Iran police
Police patrolling in in Tehran, Iran, on August 16, 2021. Police arrested Kurdish-Iranian journalist Rasoul Galehban, the publisher and the editor-in-chief of Urmiye24 Kurdish News, on April 8, 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Majid Asgaripour/WANA)

Iran arrests Kurdish editor-in-chief, Iranian cartoonist, sues several newspapers

Washington, D.C., April 19, 2024—Iranian authorities must immediately release Kurdish-Iranian journalist Rasoul Galehban and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

Galehban, the publisher and the editor-in-chief of Urmiye24 Kurdish News, was arrested by the Iran’s Cyber Police Unit in the city of Urmia, in West Azerbaijan province, on April 8, according to news reports.

According to CPJ research, the Urmiye24 website was suspended as soon as Galehban was arrested. According to news reports, Galehban was arrested after the office of Urmia’s Prosecutor General filed a lawsuit against him. CPJ was unable to determine where Galehban was being held or whether he had been formally charged.

Iranian cartoonist Atena Faraghdani was arrested violently again on April 14, according to a post by her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, on X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to a separate post by Moghimi, security forces arrested Faraghdani when she was trying to exhibit some of her critical cartoons publicly in the street. She was beaten in the head multiple times at the time of arrest, resulting in a nose bleed. She fainted, and later found herself in detention.

According to the report, Faraghdani is banned from publishing her cartoons or holding any exhibitions. According to her lawyer, the cartoonist was charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “blasphemy.”

“Iranian authorities are desperate to silence the truthful voices and now imprisoned journalist Rasoul Galehban and cartoonist Atena Faraghdani,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna in New York  “Authorities must realize that jailing journalists and critical voices won’t help them in hiding Iran’s difficult realities, and they must immediately release Galehban, Faraghdani, and all jailed journalists.”

On April 15, the office of Tehran’s Prosecutor General filed multiple lawsuits against several newspapers, including the economic daily Jahane Sanat, the moderate state-run Etemad, and journalists Abbas Abdi, the head of the Tehran Journalists Association, and Hossein Dehbashi, a media worker, charging them with “disturbing public opinion,” according to news reports.

Dina Ghalibaf was also arrested on April 15 after reporting on social media about the sexual abuse and violent treatment of herself and other women by morality police agents, amid increased presence of compulsory hijab police forces to enforce Islamic hijab in big cities such as the capital, Tehran.

Ghalibaf, a freelance journalist who has previously worked with the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), was scheduled to be temporarily released on bail from Evin prison on Monday. But authorities announced to her family that a new case has opened against her questioning her claims of sexual assault.

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