Iranian journalist, columnist, and commentator Hosein Razzagh is imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison after being convicted on anti-state and false news charges in several different cases.
Razzagh covers politics, human rights, and corruption for local news websites and shares news and commentary X, where he counts at least 48,000 followers.
Razzagh was arrested on August 21, 2022 in his home in the northern city of Amol in Mazandaran province and taken to Evin prison, according to news reports. He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison on April 6, 2023 after he was tried the previous September by Judge Haji Moradi in Branch 2 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court.
Razzagh was convicted on the following charges, according to the exile-run Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA):
-“Spreading propaganda against the system” for comments in support of religious minorities, including the Baha’i faith.
-“Disseminating false news” for his tweets in support of “anti-hijab” campaigns.
-“Colluding against national security” for creating the chatroom “Freedom Square,” where participants discussed the political situation in Iran, on the social audio app Clubhouse. According to U.S.-Congress funded Radio Farda, intelligence agents forced Razzagh to delete the chat room, claiming it induced the public to participate in anti-state protests in 2022, and economic protests in 2019.
According to a report by BBC Persian service and a source familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal, Razzagh is facing new charges of “acting against national security” and “colluding and assembling against national security” in an additional case, which stems from his participation in a virtual panel organized by a group of Iranian journalists and university professors when he was on a brief medical furlough from prison in March 2023.
In October 2023, Razzagh temporarily went on hunger strike to protest against his transfer to a solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, which is under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Ministry, the U.S.-Congress funded Voice of America Persian service reported.
According to the source, Razzagh was arrested twice before for his journalism. In 2009, he was held for four months in solitary confinement in Evin prison and was released on bail after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder affecting the nerves. In December 2021, he was arrested for 10 days and was detained in Amol central prison and was released on high cash bail.
Razzagh was not included on CPJ’s 2022 prison censuses as CPJ was not aware of his arrest at the time.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in late 2023 for comment on the cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists but received no response.