Iranian journalist Sara Azerpeyk, arrested over article about alleged Ministerial corruption

Reporters Without Borders has criticized Iran’s regime over its latest detentions of journalists.

Recent arrests include Saba Azarpeyk, who worked with the pro-reformist daily Etemad; freelance journalist Ejlal Qawami; and Massoud Kazemi of the pro-reformist daily Sharq. The managing editor of the Kurdish outlet Hiwa News, Kazem Imanzadeh, has been summoned for questioning.

Azarpeyk’s “crime” was to write about allegations of corruption against Mohammad Shariatmadari — formerly Industry Minister and now Labor Minister — publishing several documents supporting the claims. The article was published just before Parliament approved Shariatmadari’s nomination for the Labor post on October 27.

The reporter was arrested by Intelligence Ministry during a raid on her home on October 29, with her accounts on Twitter and Telegram shut down. She was freed on bail two days later.

Azarpeyk was also arrested in May 2014, spending more than 80 days in solitary confinement before being released on bail of 2 billion rials (about $48,000).

Kazemi, a critic of both conservative and reformist politicians, was arrested on November 5. His relatives and attorney do not know the charges or where the journalist is being held.

In Sanandaj in northwest Iran, Kurdish journalist Qawami was sentenced to eight months in prison on September 16 for “publishing false information designed to trouble public opinion”. His arrest came after three articles on social networks about the situation of political prisoners Kurdistan Province.

Imanzadeh was summoned for questioning in Sanandaj on October 6, with the Revolutionary Guards filing a similar complaint.

“We call for the immediate release of journalists held arbitrarily and urge the regime to stop suppressing the freedom to inform,” RSF’s Reza Moini said.

Iran is one of the leading countries in detentions of journalists. It is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.