Saleheddin Moradi

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Saleheddin Moradi, an Iranian editor and producer, was arrested in February 2018 for covering religious protests for the Majzooban-e-Noor website, which covers news about the Gonabadi Dervishes, a Sufi splinter group. He is serving a seven-year sentence on anti-state charges in Adel-Abad prison near the central city of Shiraz, after being held in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary. Tehran’s Appeals Court upheld his sentence in March 2019.

Moradi, a website manager for the Sufi news website Majzooban-e-Noor, was arrested on February 20, 2018, for covering the twoday protests by the Gonabadi Dervishes in northern Tehran, his daughter told the BBC Persian Service in an interview posted on Twitter August 19.

The clashes–which broke out between Tehran’s security forces and members of a Sufi-splinter group, 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.

Moradi was sentenced to seven years in prison, 74 lashes, and two years in exile in the southern city of Borazjan near the Persian Gulf, and a two-year ban on social activities, according to Human Rights Watch. Moradi’s daughter, Nafise Moradi, told the BBC Persian Service in an interview posted on Twitter August 19 that her father was charged with “acting against national security,” “disturbing public security,” and “disobeying law enforcement’s order.”

Moradi, who is imprisoned in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, went on hunger strike August 29 with 18 other Dervishes after prison guards raided their ward and beat them, according to Majzooban-e-Noor‘s Twitter account and a report from the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran on September 19, 2018. According to the same reports, Moradi suffers from heart problems and regularly experiences sudden drops in his blood pressure. He has been checked into the prison’s hospital but has refused to receive IV therapy, according to the Majzooban-e-Noor Twitter account. The Majzooban-e-Noor Twitter account said on October 20, 2018, that he was continuing his hunger strike.

Majzooban-e-Noor‘s official Twitter account reported November 17 that Moradi had fainted due to his ongoing hunger strike, and that he had injured his face when he fell. Moradi ended his hunger strike on November 19, Nafise Moradi said that day in a tweet.

Nafise Moradi also said on November 28, 2018, in a tweet after visiting her father in prison that when Moradi fainted and fell, one of his shoulders was broken, but that prison’s medical personnel only found out about his shoulder injury two weeks later.

In an open letter in December 2018, 23 Gonabadi Dervishes, including Moradi and five other Majzooban-e-Noor journalists, wrote “they do not find the Revolutionary Court legitimate and the Appeals Court is just a deceptive show,” CHRI reported on March 16, 2019.

To demonstrate that they do not recognize the legitimacy of the court, the group did not appeal their initial sentences, the Majzooban-e-Noor website reported on March 12, 2019. The appeals court therefore upheld their verdicts, according to Majzooban-e-Noor and multiple reports in the media and from family members of the detained Dervishes. Nafise Moradi confirmed the report on her personal Twitter account the same day. CPJ could not confirm the exact date of the hearing.

More than 70 imprisoned Gonabadi Dervishes–including Moradi and five other Majzooban-e-Noor journalists–announced a hunger strike on November 2, 2019, to protest the treatment of their 92-year-old leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh, who has been under house arrest since February 2018, according to a November 9 video posted on Twitter by BBC Persian service and two family members who spoke to CPJ but asked to remain anonymous due to security concerns.

As of late 2019, CPJ was unable to determine the status of Moradi’s health. In December 2019, Moradi was transferred to Adel-Abad prison, his daughter Nafise said in a tweet from her personal account. 

CPJ was unable to contact Iran’s Ministry of Justice or the judiciary of Tehran province via their websites, which were not functioning. CPJ could not locate an email address, website, or phone number for the Greater Tehran Penitentiary. CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in October 2019 for comment on the cases of the six Majzooban-e-Noor journalists, but did not receive a response.