Sheikh Aghaei, cartoonist and editor of the Kurdish news website Ruwange, was arrested at work in the northwestern city of Mahabad on October 7, 2015, and taken to an undisclosed location, according to the website Mukrian News.
Ruwange covers regional news, including political and social issues, with a special focus on issues of concern to Kurdish Iranians. Some of its reports include a story citing official numbers on how 10 million people in rural Iran are unemployed; a story about Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s speech in late 2015 in which he said dialogue and negotiations with the U.S. are banned; and a story about a Kurdish-Iranian photographer who won an award in the U.S.
According to news reports, Yones Ghorbanifar, another member of Ruwange’s editorial board, was arrested on the same day, but released hours later. After the arrests, Ruwange’s editorial board said it “no longer had control over the site” and would not be responsible for material that was published on the website.
As of late 2015, the website was still available, but the last story was published on October 7, 2015, the day Sheikh Aghaei was arrested.
According to Mukrian News, judicial and security authorities in Mahabad refused to tell the journalist’s family where he had been taken. The authorities did not disclose the reason for the journalist’s arrest to his family.
According to news reports, in 2009 Sheikh Aghaei worked for presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign. He was arrested on July 18, 2009, and released shortly after, according to Radio Farda. Although the authorities did not disclose their reasons for the 2009 arrest, his family told journalists at the time that they suspected it was because of Sheikh Aghaei’s work in Mousavi’s campaign.