Iranian journalist Arash Shoa-Shargh is serving a 10-year sentence on anti-state charges in Lakan Prison, in the northern city of Rasht. He was arrested in Turkey in 2018 and extradited to Iran, where he was sentenced to death; his sentence was later changed.
Shoa-Shargh, who was registered as a refugee with the United Nations in Turkey, worked as a reporter for Amad News, a popular anti-Iranian-government news channel on the messaging app Telegram, where he covered Iranian politics, according to Journalism Is Not A Crime, an exile-run website that covers news of Iranian journalists, and a friend of the journalist, who asked not to be identified for fear of their safety.
On January 5, 2018, Turkish intelligence agents arrested Shoa-Shargh in Van, a city near the Iranian border, and detained him for 25 days before extraditing him to Iran, according to Journalism Is Not A Crime and a report by the exile-run website IranWire. After arriving in Iran, he was held in solitary confinement for 94 days, according to those reports.
In the summer of 2018, Iranian authorities charged Shoa-Shargh with “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “acting against national security,” “encouraging the public to misconduct,” and “spreading corruption on the land of God,” in connection with his work for Amad News, and sentenced him to death, according to Journalism Is Not A Crime and the friend who spoke to CPJ.
In September 2018, a court commuted Shoa-Shargh’s sentence to 10 years in prison, according to the friend and that report. The friend told CPJ that authorities have pressured the journalist’s family not to publicize his case.
Around the time of Shoa-Shargh’s arrest, Amad News had been sharing footage and news about anti-government protests and demonstrations against poor economic conditions in Iran, according to CPJ’s review of the Telegram channel.
Shoa-Shargh left Iran for Turkey on August 18, 2017, after a court ordered that the journalist be lashed for “spreading lies” and “publishing without permission,” in relation to an article that alleged a member of parliament was involved in environmental corruption, according to news reports and the journalist’s friend.
In September 2021, the journalist’s friend said he had not been granted any furloughs during the coronavirus crisis. The friend said that Shoa-Shargh was in good health and is still serving his 10-year sentence. According to the friend, authorities are still very sensitive about any cases connected to Amad News even after executing its founder, Shoa-Shargh’s friend Roohollah Zam, on December 12, 2020.
CPJ emailed Alireza Miryousefi, head of the media office at Iran’s mission to the United Nations, in September 2021 for comment on the cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists, including Shoa-Shargh, but did not receive a response. CPJ also called the Rasht judiciary office for comment, but no one answered. CPJ was unable to find any contact information for Lakan Prison.