Iranian journalist Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam is serving a 12-year sentence on charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime.” He was arrested in February 2018 while covering religious protests for the Majzooban-e-Noorwebsite, which covers news about the Gonabadi Dervishes, a Sufi splinter group.
Iranian security forces arrested Moghadam while he was covering the violent dispersal of religious protests in Tehran on February 19, 2018, according to Majzooban-e-Noor. The clashes—which broke out between Tehran security forces and members of the Gonabadi Dervishes, who were protesting the arrest of one of their members—resulted in six fatalities, including five police officers, and over 300 arrests, according to news reports.
On August 18, Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Moghadam to 12 years in prison, 74 lashes, two years’ exile, and a two-year ban on political and social media activities for "spreading propaganda against the regime," according to a post on Majzooban-e-Noor’s Twitter account. Human Rights Watch said on August 29, 2018, that Moghadam was also convicted on charges relating to illegal protests and other charges, including "creating the Telegram channel ‘No to urban death’ in support of Dervishes" and "participating in drafting a joint statement of student activists," among others.
Judge Abolgasem Salavati, often referred to as the "hanging judge," who presides over Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, convicted Moghadam in absentia as he refused to appear at the hearing, according to a post by Majzooban-e-Nooron Twitter. He was initially held in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary.
In late 2018, Moghadam and other Dervishes spent 105 days in solitary confinement for participating in a sit-in protest, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on December 13, 2018.
To demonstrate against their perceived illegitimacy of the court, 23 Gonabadi Dervishes, including Moghadam and five other Majzooban-e-Noor journalists, did not appeal their initial sentences, Majzooban-e-Noor reported on March 12, 2019. The appeals court therefore upheld their verdicts, according to Majzooban-e-Noor,media reports, and tweets from family members of the detained Dervishes. CPJ could not determine the exact date of the appeal hearing.
The journalist’s wife, Faezeh Abdipour told CPJ via text that Moghadam — who was transferred to ward 350 of Evin Prison in July 2022 — was in good health in spite of not receiving sufficient medical attention.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations office of media in September 2022 for comment on Moghadam and other cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists, but did not receive a response.