Iranian journalist Majid Motalebzadeh is serving a one-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison in relation to a 2015 report he published on alleged government corruption. He was sentenced on June 1, 2020, and then arrested later that month and charged in a separate case that was pending in late 2020.
Motalebzadeh is a reporter and editor who covered economic news for the state-run Sedaye Eslahat newspaper. He also shared news and commentary on the Telegram channel “Journalists Against Corruption,” which he ran with his colleague Hadi Kasaeizadeh, according to CPJ’s review of that page and reports by the exile-run websites Human Rights Activists News Agency and IranWire.
On June 1, 2020, Motalebzadeh was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “spreading lies to disturb public opinion” in relation to a 2015 report he co-published with Kasaeizadeh alleging corruption by Iran’s then-Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif, according to those reports. The June 1 decision rejected the journalists’ final appeal, which had been pending since 2016, according to those reports.
On June 20, 2020, Motalebzadeh, who had been sentenced but not summoned to begin his jail sentence, appeared before the Cyber Crimes Court in Tehran in response to a separate summons by the country’s Cyber Police Unit, according to those reports. When he arrived, authorities filed new charges against him for allegedly insulting government officials, spreading false news through computerized devices, and collecting and passing classified information to foreign media; he was immediately transferred to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, also known as Fashafouyeh Prison, to begin his one-year sentence while also awaiting trial on the new charges, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency report.
According to that report, the separate case against Motalebzadeh stems from his online articles that criticize the government’s handling of economic issues, including financial and monetary policies.
According to another report by the Human Rights Activists News Agency, Motalebzadeh called his family and said he was transferred to Ward 240 of Evin prison on June 26 and was under pressure to record a false confession.
CPJ emailed the Tehran Cyber Police about the case at the time of Motalebzadeh’s arrest but did not receive a reply. CPJ also called the Tehran judiciary office, but the call was unanswered. CPJ also emailed Alireza Miryousefi, head of the media office at Iran’s UN mission, in late September to inquire about the case of imprisoned Iranian journalists but didn’t receive any reply.