Iranian journalist Keyvan Samimi is serving a two-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “colluding against national security” in connection with his coverage of 2019 labor protests.
Authorities initially arrested Samimi on May 1, 2019, while he was covering a labor-rights demonstration for the semi-official Iran-e Farda magazine, where he worked as editor-in-chief and as a reporter covering financial, corruption, politics and labor union issues. He was charged with “colluding against national security” and “spreading anti-establishment propaganda,” and was freed on bail on June 17, 2019, according to news reports.
After his May 2019 arrest, security forces took Samimi to the offices of Iran-e Farda, searched the premises, and confiscated documents and computer hard drives, exile-run Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported.
On April 20, 2020, Tehran’s Revolutionary Court tried Samimi in absentia, convicted him on those two charges, and sentenced him to six years in prison, according to a report by the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Samimi appealed that sentence, and in a second trial on May 18, 2020, another court confirmed his conviction but reduced his sentence to three years. The decision was upheld on further appeal on June 14, according to news reports.
Authorities re-arrested Samimi at the Evin Prison Sentence Enforcement Office, in Tehran, on December 7, 2020, and took him to serve a three-year sentence at Evin Prison, according to reports by HRANA and the London-based outlet Iran International.
On August 15, 2021, Samimi’s lawyer, Mahmoud Behzadirad, told reporters that Iran’s Supreme Court had agreed to review Samimi’s case, HRANA reported. According to the new ruling by the Supreme Court, Samimi’s sentence was reduced to two years, from three.
On May 18, 2022 Samimi was transferred from Evin Prison to Semnan Central Prison in the north central Semnan province, HRANA reported. HRANA quoted Samimi’s lawyer, Mostafa Nili, saying that in August authorities brought new charges against Samimi, including “colluding against national security.” CPJ was unable to determine where the charges, which can carry a two to five year prison term, stem from. CPJ was unable to reach Nili as he was arrested in national anti-state protests that began in September 2022, according to HRANA.
Following Samimi’s December 7, 2020, arrest, Iran-e Farda publisher Hamed Sahabi announced that the state was banning its publication, the independent, exile-run news website IranWire reported. Iran-e Farda had also been banned in Iran from April 2000 to May 2014, according to news reports. Samimi previously founded the political, cultural, and economic monthly Namehin 2004, which authorities banned two years later, according to reports.
Samimi was arrested in 2009 over his coverage of the contested presidential election, and served six years in prison, where he experienced health problems relating to his liver, according to CPJ research and news reports.
CPJ emailed Iran’s Mission to the United Nations for comment on Samimi’s case in September 2022 but did not receive any response.