Vida Rabbani

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Iranian freelance journalist Vida Rabbani, who reports for reformist newspapers Seda Weekly, Shargh Daily, and on social media site X, is imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison, where she is serving the first of two sentences totaling 17 years, both for her journalism.​

Iranian security forces arrested Rabbani from her home on September 24, 2022, for reporting on protests in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death. Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in morality police custody after she was detained for allegedly violating the country’s conservative dress law. 

Rabbani, who is also a member of the reformist Union of Islamic Iran People Party, was immediately taken to solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, under the supervision of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, according to a source familiar with a case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal. The source said that security officers beat Rabbani at the time of her arrest. 

On December 31, 2022, Rabbani was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison for “acting and colluding against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system,” according to the state-run news website Khabaronline

Prior to her September 2022 arrest she had been sentenced to 10 years and four months in prison for “blasphemy,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” and “disrupting public order” in a separate August 2022 case over her activities on the social audio app Clubhouse, where she helped convene a chat room about politics and social issues. She was not taken into custody at the time.

Rabbani is now serving the 10-year sentence in the Clubhouse case and will next serve her sentence for her coverage of the Amini; it’s likely that authorities will allow parts of the sentences to run concurrently.

CPJ’s source said that Rabbani suffers from asthma. She also suffers from several underlying conditions that include nerve inflammation in her feet and eyes, and chronic headaches, the source said.

According to her lawyer, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, who was quoted in the semi-reformist Shargh Daily, Rabbani was prescribed an emergency MRI in June after she lost her eyesight in prison, but authorities didn’t transfer her to hospital. 

On June 11, Rabbani was placed on furlough due to her illness, Shargh Daily reported. Her furlough was extended to two months, but she was summoned back to prison on August 25, according to CPJ’s source. 

Rabbani was previously imprisoned for one month in 2020. 

Authorities are known to have detained at least 95 journalists in the wake of nationwide protests following Amini’s death. The majority have been released on bail and are in the process of being charged and sentenced.

CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in late 2023 for comment on Rabbani’s case but received no response.