Mehdi Mahmoudian

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Iranian journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian is imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison, where he is serving a combined six-year sentence on anti-state and false news charges. 

Mahmoudian is a freelance columnist and commentator covering politics, human rights, and corruption. He also shares news and commentary on X, where he counts more than 36,000 followers.

On August 14, 2021 Mahmoudian was arrested alongside several other journalists and political and human rights activists from a friend’s house and taken to Evin prison to start serving the first of multiple sentences issued in the year prior, U.S. Congress-funded Radio Farda reported.

The sentences include:

-A one-year sentence for his reporting on social media alleging that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps interrogated journalists, according to the exile-run Iran Wire. Mahmoudian was arrested for more than two weeks in December 2020 on this charge but released on bail.

-A one-year sentence for “spreading propaganda against the system” for signing an open letter criticizing the regime’s economic policies, according to the exile-run Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA).

-A four-year sentence for “false news” and “colluding and cooperating against the national security” for publishing a report on the regime’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to HRANA. The sentence also included a two-year ban on practicing journalism and a two-year ban on leaving the country.

Mahmoudian was sent to a conditional medical furlough in March 2023 due to kidney and heart issues and after posting a heavy bail, according to reports. His furlough was later extended until July 2023, when he returned to prison. 

The journalist was previously imprisoned for five years from 2009 to 2014 after he was convicted of “mutiny against the system” for his coverage of complaints of abuse and rape of detainees in at a detention center in 2009. His coverage led to the closure of the center.

Mahmoudian was not included on CPJ’s 2021 or 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.