Freelance journalist Mehrnoosh Tafian is being held at Speidar Prison in Ahvaz, in southern Iran. She has been in detention since November 1, 2020, and authorities have not disclosed any charges against her.
Tafian posts political commentary on her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, and has contributed reporting to the local news website Asr-e Jonoob and the state-run Mehr News Agency. When CPJ reviewed Tafian’s social media activity in late 2020, many of her more recent posts on Instagram and Facebook had been deleted or set to private.
In October 2020, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence agents raided Tafian’s home in Khuzestan, in southwest Iran, and confiscated her cellphone and other personal effects, according to reports by the exile-run outlets Iran International and the Human Rights Activists News Agency, neither of which specified the exact date of the raid. Agents interrogated Tafian following the raid, according to those reports, which did not specify the topic of the interrogation.
On November 1, Tafian was summoned to the Avaz Revolution Court, according to those reports. In the summons, a copy of which Tafian posted on Twitter on October 31, authorities invoked an addendum to Article 170 of the penal code, which allows for individuals to be summoned without any charges filed against them.
At that hearing on November 1, the court ordered Tafian to be detained at Speidar Prison after she allegedly failed to post bail, but did not disclose the reason for her summons or imprisonment, according to those reports.
Prior to her detention, Tafian had used her Twitter account to discuss topics ranging from local home demolitions to women’s issues and poverty in Khuzestan province, according to CPJ’s review of her recent posts.
On March 3, 2020, Tafian was interviewed by the official Islamic Republic News Agency to discuss an Instagram post about her mother’s diagnosis with COVID-19 and her recovery. In that interview, Tafian criticized authorities’ alleged mishandling of the coronavirus crisis in Khuzestan, including a lack of proper safety, ill-equipped hospitals, and insufficient tests.
CPJ emailed Alireza Miryousefi, the head of the media office at Iran’s Mission to the United Nations, in November 2020 for comment on Tafian’s case, but did not receive a response.