Former BBC Reporter, Iranian-British Citizen, Arrested in Iran, Prior to Zarif’s Visit to London
Bahman Daroshafaei, a former journalist and translator, was arrested on February 3, 2016 at his home in Tehran under a warrant issued by Branch 2 of the Evin Prison Courts (Shahid Moqaddas), according to one of his associates who spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The Campaign has also learned that Daroshafaei holds dual Iranian-British citizenship.
The Campaign believes the timing of the arrest of this dual Iranian-British citizenship, on the eve of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit to London, could be an attempt by opponents of Rouhani’s government to prevent improvements in bilateral relations between the two countries.
In January 2014, Daroshafaei moved back to Iran. Upon his return to Iran, two Ministry of Intelligence agents “interrogated him for hundreds of hours,” according to a close associate of Daroshafaei. However, the Ministry of Intelligence agents did not arrest him. Daroshafaei travelled to Canada in August 2015 and returned to Iran shortly after, at which point the interrogations continued. It is not clear which security agency carried out his arrest today.
In the past ten days, Daroshafaei’s email and Facebook accounts were hacked and the hacker(s) demanded money to keep his private information secret, but he ignored the threats, a source told the Campaign.
Daroshafaei’s Telegram account was also hacked, according to a Facebook note posted by his friend, Fatemeh Shams.
In addition to previously working for reformist media outlets in Iran, including Chelcheragh magazine and the Shargh and Etemad Melli newspapers, Daroshafaei also worked for the BBC Persian Service in London.
Daroshafaei stopped practicing journalism when he returned to Iran two years ago and instead focused on translating books. He was nevertheless still interrogated several times by security forces who are deeply suspicious of foreign media workers. His passport was also confiscated, according to the Campaign’s source.
In recent months, journalists in Iran have been increasingly targeted by security forces associated with political hardliners opposed to the moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani.
Journalists Issa Saharkhiz and Ehsan Mazandarani were formally charged this week with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state,” three months after their initial arrest. Two other journalists, Afarin Chitsaz and Saman Safarzaie, who were arrested on November 2, 2015, also remain in detention but their charges have not been announced.
The Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, accused the two detained journalists on February 1, 2016, of collaborating with “foreign enemy states.”