Iran Deepens Pre-Elections Crackdown by arresting Five Journalists

Nov 4, 20150 comments

Five Iranian journalists have been arrested, news outlets close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) reported on Tuesday.  United for Iran calls on the Iranian authorities to release these journalists and others who have been arrested for exercising their right to free press and free speech. According to our count, these arrests bring the number of journalists and bloggers behind bars in Iran to 64 individuals.

Tasnim news agency reported that the five journalists are members of an “infiltration network” with links to “hostile western countries.” The reports came a day after reformist journalists Isa Saharkhiz, Ehsan Mazandarani, Afarin Chitsaz, and Saman Safarzai were detained in Tehran. Saharkhiz, who previously served as deputy minister of culture, was behind bars for four years after Iran’s disputed election in 2009.

The identity of the other reporter has not yet been revealed.

“The arrest of these journalists is part of Iran’s ongoing attempt to silence independent reporting ahead of parliamentary elections and we call on the Iranian authorities to immediately release these journalists,” said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United for Iran’s director. “These arrests deepen our concerns that following the landmark nuclear agreement, hardliners plan to push against a potential internal power shift by escalating the crackdown on independent voices.”

Last month an Iranian filmmaker and two poets were sentenced to lashes and long prison terms all for security offences that included “propagating against the state.”  Filmmaker Keywan Karimi was sentenced to 223 lashes and 6 years in jail.  Poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi were each sentenced to 99 lashes. In addition, Ekhtesari received an 11.5-year prison term and Mousavi was sentenced to 9 years in prison.