Arrested Journalists Held Incommunicado for Over a Month while Officials Make Baseless Claims
More than a month after his arrest, the prominent reformist journalist Issa Saharkhiz has not contacted his family and judicial authorities have not commented on his status, his son Mehdi Saharkhiz told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Issa Saharkhiz and three other journalists, Afarin Chitsaz, Ehsan Mazandarani, and Saman Safarzaie, were arrested on November 2, 2015, by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization. The fate of all of them is unclear as Judiciary authorities have refused to give any information.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Khatami, a hardline member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, claimed in a speech on November 30, 2015, that the arrested journalists had made confessions, including collaboration with the US.
“Recently a number of journalists were arrested on the charge of collaboration with the US. They confessed that their job was to receive and edit articles and then send them to American newspapers,” he said.
Khatami’s accusations are odd given the fact that Judiciary officials have not made any statements about the recently arrested journalists.
Mehdi Saharkhiz told the Campaign that his father’s lawyer had made several attempts to meet with him in Evin Prison but had been refused.
“My father has not had any contact with the family. All we know is that he is being held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison but we don’t know exactly inside which ward. Naturally the family is very worried. We have no news at all,” Mehdi Saharkhiz said.
Issa Saharkhiz was released from prison just over two years ago, on October 3, 2013, two months before completing a five-year sentence for charges related to the 2009 presidential election protests, namely “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state.” Peaceful protests arising after that disputed election were violently put down by the state and hundreds were jailed.
Saharkhiz has been transferred from prison to the hospital on numerous occasions because of heart disease.
A day after the arrest of the four journalists, the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization took responsibility and accused them of being members of an “infiltration network” belonging to the US and UK governments.