Intelligence officers of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps arrested Safarzaee, a reporter for the monthly Andisheh Pouya, on November 2, 2015, local media reported. The next day, local media outlets with close ties to the Revolutionary Guards reported that five local journalists had been arrested for being part of an “infiltration network” with links to Western countries. Saham News, a news website with close ties to detained opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi, reported that Safarzaee was one of the five detained journalists.
Safarzaee worked on Andisheh Pouya’s international desk and often “interviewed many foreign experts and international politicians,” according to Saham News.
On April 26, 2016, Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court convicted Safarzaee of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” and sentenced him to five years in prison, according to news reports. The journalist appealed the sentence, and on August 20, Branch 36 of the Appellate Court reduced the sentence to two years in prison.
In July 2016, after eight months in Evin Prison, Safarzaee was granted a three-day furlough, someone close to him, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, told CPJ.
Iranian law permits prisoners to appeal for conditional release once half the sentence has been served. A close associate of Safarzaee’s told CPJ that the journalist plans to appeal for conditional release. “He is hopeful that because he has not acted in a way that will make the authorities too sensitive about his case, there is a chance that he might be granted a conditional release,” the associate said, asking not to be identified for fear of retribution.