Iranian journalist Mostafa Abdi is serving a 26-year, three-month sentence on anti-state charges. He was arrested in February 2018 while covering religious protests for the Majzooban-e-Noor website, which covers news about the Gonabadi Dervishes, a Sufi splinter group.
Iranian security forces arrested Abdi, an editor with Majzooban-e-Noor, on February 20, 2018, while he was covering the violent dispersal of religious protests in Tehran, according to news reports. Abdi tweeted a photo from the protests on February 19.
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 15, 2018, a revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced Abdi to 26 years and three months in prison, 148 lashes, two years of exile, a two-year travel ban, and a two-year ban on political and social media activities, according to a Twitter post by Majzooban e-Noorand a report by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.
Abdi was convicted of "assembly and collusion against national security," "disturbing public order," "disobeying law enforcement agents," and "propaganda against the state," the Center for Human Rights in Iran reported.
According to an August 18, 2018, report on Infosufi, a news website covering the Gonabadi Dervishes, Abdi refused to hire a lawyer at the time of the preliminary trial, signaling that he did not recognize the legitimacy of the Revolutionary Court. The Infosufireport included a copy of Abdi’s full sentence.
Abdi refused to attend the preliminary court session in which he was tried, instead sending an open letter to the court calling the circumstances of the trial "unfair" and asking for a public trial, U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Majzooban-e-Noor tweeted that Abdi was beaten by security forces at the protests when he was arrested, before being interrogated and detained at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary. CPJ could not independently confirm the allegations of beating.
To demonstrate against their perceived illegitimacy of the court, 23 Gonabadi Dervishes, including Abdi 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.
Other prisoners beat Abdi and broke his nose, Faezeh Abdipour, the wife of another imprisoned journalist, wrote on her personal Twitter account on June 18, 2019.
According to a family member who spoke to CPJ in September 2022 on the condition of anonymity due to the fear of reprisal, Abdi was transferred to ward 30 of Tehran’s Evin prison on July 27 and is serving the rest of his sentence there.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in September 2022 for comment on Abdi’s case, but did not receive a response.