Four Independent News Journalists Arrested in Iran in Less Than a Month
Former political prisoner Ali (Amir) Amirgholi has become the fourth journalist working for the Gam independent online news outlet to be arrested in Iran in recent weeks.
A source with knowledge of his case told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on January 16, 2019, that someone posing as Amirgholi had contacted his father after Amirgholi was detained.
“We had not heard from him in two days,” said the source who requested anonymity for security reasons. “We went to his house in Babolsar [northern Iran] but he wasn’t there.”
The source said that after Amirgholi was arrested, someone sent messages from his WhatsApp account to his father claiming that he was at his friend’s house in the city of Lahijan and that he was okay.
“But then Amirgholi’s relatives and friends noticed that his responses on WhatsApp did not make sense and it seemed like he was not writing them,” added the source. “We got more worried when he didn’t answer repeated calls and eventually his phone went dead.”
The journalist’s relatives also went to his friend’s house in Lahijan and confirmed he had not been there when the messages were sent. The source added that prior to Amirgholi’s arrest, security agents had twice come to his home and left after not finding him there.
The source added Amirgholi suffers from diabetes and could suffer serious health consequences if he misses his regular doses of medication.
Three other journalists working for the media outlet have been arrested since December 2018.
Journalist Asal Mohammadi was arrested in Tehran on December 4, 2018, and charged in connection with her reports on labor rights protests in Khuzestan Province. She was released on bail on January 5.
Gam’s Editor-in-Chief Amirhossein Mohammadifard and his colleague and wife Sanaz Allahyari were taken into custody by Intelligence Ministry agents on January 9, 2019. They remain in detention.
It is not clear when Amirgholi was arrested but he went missing on January 15, 2019, according to a post on Gam’s channel on the Telegram messaging app.
In May 2017, Amirgholi was released from prison in Iran after serving two and a half years behind bars for the charges of “insulting the sacred,” “insulting the supreme leader,” “assembly and collusion against national security,” “disturbing public order” and “propaganda against the state.”