Journalists in Iran sentenced to over seven years in prison and flogging

Journalists in Iran sentenced to over seven years in prison and flogging
Iran has increased threats to journalists and freedom of speech by handing down long-term sentences and launched a new phase of arrests while brutally suppressing anti-establishment protests across the country.
3 min read
03 January, 2023
Iran protest held in Beyzit on 31December 2022 in Istanbul, Türkiye. [Getty]

Pressure has dramatically mounted on journalists as Iran's judiciary sentenced a photojournalist and a reporter to over seven years in prison and flogging, while at least 26 journalists are still in custody since mid-September.

Ali Mojtahedzadeh, the lawyer of Vida Rabbani, wrote on Twitter that his client was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison after being found guilty of "conducting propaganda against the establishment" and "colluding against national security."

On 24 September, Rabbani was beaten and arrested at her home in Tehran. The Iranian journalist was also arrested in 2020 and kept in solitary confinement at the Evin prison.

Aria Jafari is another journalist convicted of a lengthy prison term in December. A branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in the city of Isfahan sentenced the award-winning photojournalist to seven years in prison, 74 lashes and a two-year ban from leaving the country.

Jafari was also arrested at his home a day after Rabbani's arrest. The detail of his accusations has not been published yet.  

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It was not the first time that the security forces arrested Jafari. In 2014, he was detained for covering the demonstrations against a series of acid attacks on women in Isfahan.

Iran's security forces, judges and judicial officials began a heavy-handed crackdown on journalists following Mahsa Amini's death in custody on 16 September. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was arrested in Tehran by the "Islamic Morality Police", and her death sparked nationwide protests.

On 13 December, the non-governmental federation of Tehran's journalists reported that over 70 journalists had been arrested since the beginning of the demonstrations in Iran, and 25 were still in custody. 

Many released journalists have been released with a hefty bail and are waiting for the final decision of Islamic Revolutionary Courts regarding their cases.

Meanwhile, the security forces continued summoning, interrogating and arresting journalists, as on 1 January, Milad Alavi, a Baluch journalist, was arrested in Tehran.

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On Twitter, his brother wrote that Alavi had been summoned and interrogated several times before his arrest. 

"Seven intelligence ministry agents raided our home on 13 December; they broke the door to enter and confiscated all the electronic devices belonged to Milad," he added.

Alavi is now kept in the high-security ward 209 in the Evin prison.

Mehdi Ghadimi, another independent journalist, was arrested on 2 January in the city of Karaj by ten security officers and transferred to the capital Tehran.

According to the annual round-up of violence and abuses against journalists published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in 2022, Iran became the world's third biggest jailor of media workers, with 47 detainees.