Iran’s Crackdown Continues: Another Journalist Arrested
Continuing the latest crackdown on journalists that began on January 26, Iranian security forces arrested Mohammad Javad Rouh on Sunday, March 3. Rouh, currently an editor at the reformist monthly magazine Mehrnameh, has worked on the political desk of reformist newspapers for years. Since January 2013, 18 journalists have been arrested and sent to Evin Prison, though several of them have been released on bail over the past few weeks.
In its first statement on January 30, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced that the arrested journalists were spies and affiliates of the BBC news network and promised further arrests. In its third communiqué about the recent round of arrest, the Ministry claimed on February 19, “Several identified members of the network requested to share and publish their information and experiences about the network, in order to forewarn others.” This claim raised concerns among other journalists and the families of those arrested that the detainees may be under pressure to issue forced confessions.
On January 26, two journalists, Soleiman Mohammadi and Milad Fadi Asl, were arrested. The next day, a Sunday now widely referred to as “The Black Sunday” among journalists, security forces raided the offices of five publications, Shargh, Bahar, Arman, and Etemad newspapers and Aseman Weekly, and arrested nine other journalists. The mass arrests continued into the following days, and security forces are still arresting journalists.
The names of the journalists arrested and released on bail so far are: Motahareh Shafiee, Ali Dehghan, Fatemeh Sagharchi, Javad Daliri, Hossein Haghchi, Keyvan Mehregan, Narges Joudaki, Akbar Montajebi, Reyhaneh Tabatabaie, Milad Fadai Asl, Pouria Alami, Pejman Mousavi, and Soleiman Mohammadi. Today three more journalists, Nasrin Takhayori, Sasan Aghaee, and Saba Azarpeik, have been released.
Ehsan Mazandarani and Mohammad Javad Rouh remain in prison at this time.
Though the Intelligence Ministry has claimed the journalists are spies, the Judicial authorities have yet to enumerate any charges. It also remains unclear how the judicial cases will be prosecuted.