(L to R): Journalists Mehrnoush Zarei, Saeeda Shafiei, and Melika Hashmei, all arrested by Iranian authorities on January 21, 2023

UPDATES: Iran Protests — Torture and “Confessions” in Evin Prison

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The Iranian judiciary has reportedly sentenced a pregnant woman to death.

Shahla Abdi, an ethnic Kurd from the West Azerbaijan Province in northwest Iran, was arrested in Urmia in mid-October. Reports say she was condemned for setting fire to a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

A woman who was detained with Abdi, who is 21 or 22 says she was held in Urmia Central Prison for about a month. Some detainees say Abdi was transferred to Tabriz Prison about three weeks ago; others say she was taken to the detention center of the Intelligence Ministry.

“When I saw this woman, she looked very young but weak and abused, and I realized that she was four months pregnant,” one detainee said.

Another recalled, “She was in a very shocked state. It was obvious that she hadn’t taken a shower for a long time, and her hair was very messy. She was very scared.”


Iranian authorities are prosecuting the producer of the award-winning film Leila’s Brother.

Javad Norouzbeigi was summoned to the prosecutor’s office “where the title of the accusation against me was the production of Leila’s Brothers”.

At May’s Cannes Film Festival, Leila’s Brother won the FIPRESCI Prize and was nominated for the Palme d’Or.

But it was before release last summer by Iran’s Cinema Organization of the Islamic Guidance Ministry, claiming the “producer and director [were] violating and disobeying regulations”.

The ban may have been prompted by the speech of director Saeed Roustayi as he accepted the FIPRESCI award at Cannes. Roustayi said he was honoring those grieving in Abadan after the collapse of a tower building killed 43 people in the city in southwest Iran.

Iranian authorities have detained, arrested, or summoned a series of filmmakers, producers, and actors before and during the 19-week nationwide protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Actor Hossein Mohammadi, 26, faces the death sentence after he was reportedly tortured into a forced “confession” over the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during a demonstration.


Iranian chess grandmaster Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, who defected to Spain after appearing at an international competition without a hijab, met Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday.

Khademalsharieh, 25, also known as Sara Khadem, took part in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty in late December. After she was threatened over photos of her without hijab, she chose to remain in Spain, which she had entered in early January.

Khadem was pictured shaking hands with Sanchez over a chessboard at his official residence, the Moncloa Palace.

The Prime Minister tweeted, “How much I have learned today from a woman who inspires me. All my support to women athletes. Your example contributes to a better world.”

Khadem told the Spanish newspaper El Pais, that she only wore a headscarf at tournaments where there were cameras because she was representing Iran.

“With the hijab, I’m not me, I don’t feel good, and so I wanted to put an end to that situation,” she said. “So I decided not to wear it anymore.”


Among the latest sentences imposed by Iran authorities….

  • 9 years and 8 months for musician Erfan Khalilian;
  • 1 year for Tehran University literature major Matin Soleimani;
  • 5 years for Elham Afkari, the sister of executed wrestler Navid Afkari


The Iranian regime is continuing its harassment and punishment of the families of protesters killed or detained by security forces.

Hossein Ekhtiarian was beaten and imprisoned on November 22 after inquiring about his brother Mohammad, who was shot and arrested on October 27 during a memorial for slain teenage protester Nika Shakarami.

Hossein reportedly has a broken arm, and Mohammad is in a coma.

Zeinab Molaei-Rad, the mother of the slain 9-year-old Kian Pirfalak, has been suspended as a teacher in southwest Iran.

Kian was killed and his father wounded in November as they sat in their car while security forces fired on protesters.

Molaei-Rad was told last week by the local education department’s security officials that she is prohibited from working “until further notice”.

Authorities targeted Molaei-Rad after she explained at Kian’s funeral how he and his father were shot. They forced her to make a “confession” on State TV by threatening to stop her husband’s treatment in hospital.”


Iran’s Supreme Court has again upheld the death sentence imposed on Mohammad Ghobadloo.

Ghobadloo’s lawyer Mahdakht Damghanpour said the Court accepted the appeal against his murder conviction but maintained the separate charge of “corruption on Earth”.

“We have registered the appeal four times, and each time the court has refused to register and accept it,” Damghanpour said.

Ghobadloo was charged with running over police with a car, killing one officer and injurying five others.

Amnesty International has challenged the “sham trial” where Ghobadloo, 22, was sentenced while his lawyers were not present.

Ghobadlou, said to suffer from mental problems, has been subjected to torture and abuse in custody, say his supporters.

His mother pleaded for his life in a video message posted online.


Kowsar Khoshnoudi-Kia, a member of Iran’s national archery team, has lost the sight in her left eye after she was shot by Iranian security forces in Kermanshah on December 9.

The archer responded, “I have felt no regrets for being there on that day, at that time.”


Iranian authorities have condemned another female journalist to a long prison sentence.

Photographer Reihane Taravati has been given a six-year term for allegedly organizing activities aimed at helping the women’s movement.


Artist Elham Modaresi has been released on bail after more than 3 1/2 months in detention.

Modaresi was seized on November 2. She was held i nKaraj’s Kachoui Prison, accused of “damaging facilities”, “disturbing public order and comfort”, and “propagating against the regime”.

Her family feared for Modaresi’s life, as she suffers from a genetic liver disorder and requires urgent medical care. They say they were not provided with any evidence of a crime, and independent legal representation was denied.

Modaresi’s sister Mojgan said Elham was under “severe torture”:

They don’t have a case against her but are trying to build one. And they do that by blindfolding her and psychologically torturing her.

They say things like, “You are a prostitute, you are a slut. You are guilty of sinning – look what you’ve done to your family.”


Painter and sculptor Farahnaz Nazeri has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Sari in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran.

The hearing was held over the phone. Naseri’s lawyer was not present.


In the latest crackdown on dissent at Iran’s universities, Zahra Rahimi has been suspended for at least two years from her studies at Yazd University as she awaits trial over her participation in protests.

Hassan Bagherinia has been suspended from the faculty of Hakim Sabzevari University’s College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences over his advocacy of peaceful student protest.

Alimohammad Nazari Shiasi, a statistics major at Isfahan Industrial University, has been sentenced to five years in prison over his involvement in protests.


Iran authorities have arrested a third female journalist in the past 48 hours.

Melika Hashmei, a reporter for Shahr News Agency in Iran, was arrested on Saturday after she was summoned to Evin Prison’s security court.

Security personnel also seized Saeeda Shafiei and Mehrnoush Zarei in their homes on Saturday (see below).

The Iranian regime has arrested 80 journalists during the 18-week nationwide protests sparked by compulsory hijab and the death of Mahsa Amini — detained and reportedly beaten by “morality police” over “inappropriate attire” — in custody.

Many of the arrested media personnel are women. Two of them, Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, face the death penalty because they broke the news of Amini’s coma and death on September 16.


As Iran’s rial sank to a new all-time low, President Ebrahim Raisi insisted to the Majlis, “Know that the prices of currencies and gold, as well as the prices of many expensive things in the country will decrease.”

Raisi did not explain how he would stop the rial’s slide.

The rial closed at 450,000:1 v. the US dollar on Sunday, a fall of 0.6% on the day. The currency has sunk by almost 30% during the 18-week protests.

Raisi also proclaimed that he would bring down Iran’s inflation rate, officially at 45% but unofficially far higher.

The Majlis approved the outlines of the Government’s budget for 2023-24 of 52.616 quadrillion rials ($117 billion), which takes effect on March 21.


Activists say detained protester Hassan Firouzi fell into a coma on Friday after torture.

Firouzi has been sentenced by a Revolutionary Court to death.

According to France-based Iran Human Rights Monitor, Firouzi said his “only wish” was to see his daughter — born 18 days after his arrest — before his execution.

The activists said Firouzi suffered severe bleeding after torture and beatings, losing his left kidney, and received no medical treatment.

The lawyer of bodybuilder Mohammad Ekhtiarian, detained in Khorramabad in western Iran, said his client is also in a coma from infection of injuries sustained during his arrest.

Ekhtiarian was shot in the leg by security forces and then detained.


Two more journalists, Saeeda Shafiei and Mehrnoush Zarei, have been arrested in Tehran.

Their detentions bring the total of journalists arrested during the 18-week nationwide protests to 79.

Shafiei’s husband Hassan Homayoun said she was seized by security forces on Sunday in their home. She has been taken to an undisclosed location, and there is no information about the reason for the arrest.

Saeeda Shafiei is a journalist and the author of the books “Dochtarpich” and “Gorkhan Station”.

Zarei was also taken from home by security personnel, who seized digital equipment.


The Iranian rial has slipped further to a new all-time low of 450,600:1 v. the US dollar.

The Ecoiran site blamed international measures over Iran’s nuclear program and crackdown on nationwide protests for the slide:

Increasing political pressures, such as placing the Revolutionary Guards on a list of terrorist organisations, and imposing restrictions on Iran-linked ships and oil tankers…are factors pointing to a global consensus against Iran, [which affect) the dollar’s rate in Tehran.

The European Union is considering a fourth set of sanctions on the Iranian regime, including on Revoluationary Guards commanders. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly last week to label the Guards a terrorist organization.

Iran’s State English-language outlet Press TV is not mentioning the currency slide this morning. Instead, its lead story is “Iran’s Hand-Woven Carpet Output Up by Over 46% in March-December”.


The Iranian currency, already at an all-time low, continues to sink.

The rial is now at 447,300:1 v. the US dollar, a loss of almost 4% in value today.


EA correspondent Deepa Parent, writing for The Guardian, describes how the Iranian regime is trying to shut down protests in Zahedan in southeast Iran.

Demonstrators first came out on the streets on September 30, challenging abuses by security forces and discrimination against Sunni Muslims and the Baluch minority. Regime forces responded by killing at least 66 worshippers and protesters.

But residents were not deterred. Friday Prayer leader Moulavi Abdul Hamid, Iran’s leading Sunni cleric, challenged the regime and people marched every week after the service.

This week 15 checkpoints were put up around Zahedan, and several people were detained by security forces.

“All entrances and exits to and from the city have been blocked,” said “Mohammad”, who is in his 20s. “We have no idea how many were detained and where they were taken.”

Human rights activist Farzin Kadkhodaei, a human rights activist from Baluchistan, said everyone entering or leaving the city is searched: “They’re looking at their phones, especially if they’re young.” Police have begun filming protesters, including near the city’s Makki mosque, who they later arrest.

Kadkhodaei estimated that at least 114 people were seized in the first week of January. One detainee, Hossein Khashani, was severely tortured.

“We don’t even know if they’re alive o