Iranian freelance photojournalist Nooshin Jafari was arrested on February 16, 2021, and taken to prison to start serving a four-year term on charges of “spreading anti-state propaganda” and “insulting sanctities.” Jafari was initially arrested in August 2019, and was later convicted and sentenced; she had been free pending appeal.
Police initially arrested Jafari, then a cinema and theater photographer covering cultural issues for several Iranian magazines, after pro-government social media accounts accused her of running a Twitter account that opposed the Iranian government, according to a report published on the Telegram channel of pro-opposition news website Amad News and a report by the Persian service of Deutsche Welle.
She was sentenced to one year in prison for “spreading anti-establishment propaganda” and four years for “insulting sanctities” – a charge used against those accused of insulting Islamic beliefs. A Tehran appeals court upheld the conviction on February 13, 2021, and imposed a four-year total sentence, according to exile-run news website IranWire and Emtedad News, an outlet run by the reformist Union of Islamic Iran People Party. CPJ was not able to determine the date of her initial conviction and sentence.
On February 16, 2021, police arrested Jafari at her home in Tehran and took her to the city’s Qarchak Prison to begin serving the four-year sentence, according to IranWire and the Human Rights Activists News Agency, another exile-run news website.
Jafari’s case fits a broader pattern in Iran of arresting and charging journalists for using social media to disseminate allegedly anti-government reporting. Due to heavy censorship of state media and publications, journalists are increasingly using their own social media platforms to publish reporting, leading to a crackdown on their social media activity.
Amir Raisian, Jafari’s lawyer, told Emtedad News that the journalist was imprisoned without ever receiving an official summons, which he said could have been because authorities feared she would flee the country before they could detain her.
Jafari was furloughed from Qarchak Prison from March 17, 2021 until April 10, 2021 for the annual Iranian new year holiday and spent the time at home with her family; she went back to prison on April 10 to serve the rest of her term, according to a report by HRANA.
Jafari was previously arrested in 2010, while working at the reformist daily newspaper Etemad as an arts and culture reporter, according to CPJ research.
CPJ emailed Iran’s Mission to the United Nations in September 2022 for comment about the cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists including Jafari, but did not immediately receive any response.