Security agents arrested Heydari, the artistic director of the reformist-leaning daily Shahrvand, at the newspaper’s offices in Tehran, according to local news reports. Shahrvand is owned by the relief organization Red Crescent Society.
The allegations against Heydari, 38, are unclear, and the agents who arrested him did not provide a reason for the arrest, according to news reports. Heydari’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, in an interview with the Tansim news agency, said he was unaware why his client had been arrested. “I haven’t had any contact with him since his arrest,” Nikbakht said. “Judicial authorities must provide explanation.”
Heydari, a cartoonist, has worked for the news outlets Mosharekat, Etemad-e Meli, Bahar, Eghbal and Etefaghiyeh, according to Saham News. His work has been published in international outlets such as Politico and Le Figaro. The last cartoon published before his arrest was about the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, in Shahrvand.
In September 2012, a controversial cartoon by Heydari called “Blindfolding” was published in the daily Sharq. The next day, the newspaper was banned. Critics accused Heydari of insulting Iran-Iraq War veterans by depicting them as entering the eight-year war with Iraq wearing blindfolds. Heydari was summoned to court and denied the cartoon had any link to the war. Both Heydari and Sharq were acquitted of the charges on December 29, 2012, and the newspaper resumed publication.
Heydari was also detained for two weeks in 2009 following Iran’s disputed presidential election. He was arrested again in December 2010 on charges of “propaganda against the state.” He was released two months later on a 500-million-toman bail (about US$15,000). It is not clear if a trial took place.
The Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency reported that Heydari is being held in Evin Prison.