Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 October 2014, 14:56 GMT

Annual Prison Census 2009: Iran

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 8 December 2009
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2009: Iran, 8 December 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b220c9fc.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2009

Iran: 23

Adnan Hassanpour, Aso
Imprisoned: January 25, 2007

Security agents seized Hassanpour, a journalist and former editor for the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, in Kurdistan province, according to news reports.

A Revolutionary Court convicted Hassanpour in July 2007 of endangering national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, one of his attorneys, Sirvan Hosmandi, told CPJ. The journalist was sentenced to death. A court of appeals overturned the death sentence in September 2008 and ordered a new trial on charges of "working for outlawed parties" and espionage, according to the BBC. In November, a trial court convicted Hassanpour on the new charges and re-imposed the death sentence, the BBC said.

Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Payam-e Mardom
Imprisoned: July 1, 2007

Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand at his Tehran office, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.

Authorities accused Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e Mardom, of acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, according to his organization's Web site. A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Mojtaba Lotfi, freelance
Imprisoned: October 8, 2008

A clergyman and a blogger, Lotfi was arrested by security forces on a warrant issued by the religious Clergy Court in Qom. Authorities accused him of publishing the views of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who had criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's positions.

Authorities did not specify particular articles or publications in which the views were supposedly cited. Lotfi was convicted of several charges, including spreading antistate information, and sentenced to four years in prison, according to news reports.

Hossein Derakhshan, freelance
Imprisoned: November 2008

On December 30, 2008, a spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary confirmed in a press conference in Tehran that Derakhshan, a well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger, had been detained since November 2008 in connection with comments he allegedly made about a key cleric, according to local and international news reports.

The exact date of Derakhshan's arrest was unknown, but news of his detention first appeared on November 17, 2008, on Jahan News, a news Web site close to the Iranian intelligence apparatus. At the time, Jahan News reported that he had confessed to "spying for Israel" during the preliminary interrogation.

Derakhshan started blogging after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. A former writer for reformist newspapers, he also contributed opinion pieces to The Guardian of London and The New York Times. The journalist, who lived in Canada during most of this decade, returned to Tehran a few weeks prior to his detention, The Washington Post reported.

In November, the BBC Persian service reported that Derakhshan's family had sought information about his whereabouts and the charges he faced and expressed concern about having very limited contact with him.

Mahdi Hossein-Zadeh, Hambastegy
Imprisoned: June 2009

Hossein-Zadeh, a journalist for the economic section of the reformist newspaper Hambastegy, was arrested in mid-June, according to Mouj Azadi, a reformist news Web site.

Hossein-Zadeh was being held at Tehran's Evin Prison, where his family had been allowed two visits, the site reported. He is the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Tawsu'a and also worked for Etemad e Melli, the newspaper owned by defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi. He faced espionage allegations in late year, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Ahmad Zaid-Abadi, freelance
Imprisoned: June 2009

Zaid-Abadi, who wrote a weekly column for Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site, was arrested in Tehran, according to news reports. Zaid-Abadi is also the director of the Organization of University Alumni of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi.

Mahdieh Mohammadi, Zaid-Abadi's wife, was allowed to to see the journalist after he had spent 53 days in custody, according to the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He told her that he was being held in inhumane conditions.

Zaid-Abadi was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to local and international news reports. In November, he was sentenced to six years in prison, five years of exile in Gonabad, Razavi Khorasan province, and a lifetime deprivation of social and political activities, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.

Omid Salimi, Nesf e Jehan
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009

Salimi, a photographer who worked for Nesf e Jehan newspaper in Esfahan, was arrested after being summoned by Revolutionary Guards to pick up belongings confiscated during an earlier arrest, according to Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, a local human rights watchdog. Salimi had been detained in December 2008 and had spent three months in prison on unspecified charges.

After his most recent arrest, Salimi was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists New Agency. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.

Kayvan Samimi, Nameh
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009

Samimi, manager of the now-defunct monthly Nameh, was being held in Evin Prison after his arrest in Tehran, according to news reports.

His lawyer, Nasrin Sotoodeh, said in mid-October that authorities refused a request to see the case file, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Samimi called his family in October to tell them that he was under pressure to make a false confession, his lawyer told Rooz Online.

Samimi was charged with "creating public anxiety," and "congregation and mutiny to disrupt national security," his lawyer told Zamaneh Radio. The first session of his trial was held on November 23, but no verdict was immediately announced, according to news accounts.

Saeed Laylaz, Sarmayeh
Imprisoned: June 17, 2009

Laylaz, editor of the daily business journal Sarmayeh and a vocal critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies, was arrested at home on June 17, his wife, Sepharnaz Panahi, told the BBC Persian service. She said that officers searched their home and confiscated videotapes, hard drives, and letters.

Laylaz was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to local and international news reports. He spent 100 days in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin Prison before being moved to a group cell, where he was denied newspapers, pen, and paper, his wife told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.

Laylaz was charged with "congregation and mutiny against national security, propagation against the regime, disrupting public order, and keeping classified documents," according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

After a two-hour trial in November, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency and online accounts. His wife told the news Web site Kalameh that the "classified document" that was a centerpiece of the prosecution was actually a published and widely available investigation into the Iranian judiciary.

Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, freelance
Imprisoned: June 19, 2009

Amouee, a contributor to several reformist newspapers including Mihan, Hamshahri, Jame'e, Khordad, Norooz, and Sharq, and the author of an eponymous blog, was arrested with his wife, Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, according to news reports. Bani-Yaghoub, editor-in-chief of the Iranian Women's Club, a news Web site focusing on women's rights, was released on bail on August 19, according to the BBC Persian service.

Amouee was being held in Tehran's Evin Prison, part of the time in solitary confinement, according to news reports. Farideh Ghayrat, his lawyer, told the Gooya news Web site that her client was arrested without a warrant and that no charges had been filed against him. His wife said Amouee was denied access to his family and lawyer for several weeks, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Issa Sahar-Khiz, freelance
Imprisoned: July 3, 2009

Sahar-Khiz, a columnist for the reformist news Web sites Rooz Online and Norooz and a founding member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested while traveling in northern Iran, the association said in a statement.

His son, Mahdi, told the news Web site Rooz Online in mid-September that the family had met with the journalist in the presence of prison officials. Sahar-Khiz told family members that he had access to television and was allowed to walk outside his cell for exercise. Sahar-Khiz's lawyer said that his client was being charged with "participation in riots," "encouraging others to participate in riots," and "insulting the supreme leader," according to Rooz Online.

Sahar-Khiz has had a long career in journalism. He worked for 15 years for IRNA, Iran's official news agency, and ran its New York office for part of that time. He returned to Iran in 1997 to work in Mohammad Khatami's Ministry of Islamic Guidance, in charge of domestic publications. Sahar-Khiz and a superior, Ahmad Bouraghani, came to be known as the architects of a period of relative freedom for the press in Iran. After he was forced to leave the ministry and was banned from government service in a trial, he founded a reformist newspaper, Akhbar-e Eghtesad, and monthly magazine, Aftab, both of which were eventually banned. Sahar-Khiz wrote articles directly critical of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.

Massoud Bastani, Farhikhtegan and Jomhoriyat
Imprisoned: July 5, 2009

Bastani, a journalist for the reformist newspaper Farihikhtegan and Jomhoriyat, a news Web site affiliated with the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested when he went to a Tehran court seeking information about his wife, journalist Mehsa Amrabadi, according to local news reports. Amrabadi, arrested along with two other journalists on June 15, was released on August 25.

Bastani was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to news reports. In September, his lawyer, Mohammad Sharrif, told the Amir Kabir Newsletter Web site that Bastani had spent weeks in solitary confinement.

On October 20, the news site Norooz reported that a court had sentenced Bastani to six years in prison for "propagating against the regime and congregating and mutinying to create anarchy."

Bastani had been editor-in-chief of the now-banned Neda-ye Eslahat (Voice of Reform) weekly.

Marjan Abdollahian, Hamshahri
Imprisoned: July 9, 2009

The BBC Persian service and other news outlets reported that authorities had detained Abdollahian, a photo editor for the Tehran-based Hamshahri newspaper. Six days after her arrest, she called her family to inform them that she was being held in Evin Prison, according to the news Web site Rooz Online. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.

Saeed Matin-Pour, Yar Pag and Mouj Bidari
Imprisoned: July 12, 2009

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted Matin-Pour of having "relations with foreigners and propagating against the regime," according to local news reports. He was sentenced to an eight-year prison term.

Matin-Pour was first arrested in May 2007 and released on bail. He was rearrested in 2009 amid the government's crackdown on the press. The journalist worked for Yar Pag and Mouj Bidari newspapers in western Azerbaijan province, in addition to writing his own blog, according to local news reports. Matin-Pour was suffering from heart and respiratory problems, and his family was not immediately able to secure a medical release for examination outside prison, according to the news Web site Advarnews.

Fariba Pajooh, freelance
Imprisoned: August 2009

Pajooh was arrested in mid-August, according to the Iran Human Rights Center. On September 7, she contacted her family to tell them she was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran, the organization reported.

Pajooh worked for reformist news outlets such as Etemad e Melli and the Iranian Labor News Agency, and for the Persian service of Radio France International (RFI) and Spain's El País. The Human Rights Activists News Agency, a local watchdog, reported on October 12 that the journalist had been under constant interrogation for weeks. RFI reported that she was charged with "propagating against the regime" and had been pressured to make a false confession.

Reza Nourbakhsh, Farhikhtegan
Imprisoned: August 4, 2009

Authorities took Nourbakhsh, editor-in-chief of the reformist newspaper Farhikhtegan, into custody after searching his home, according to news reports. Nourbakhshalso contributed to Jomhoriyat, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Nourbakhsh was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to news reports. He was sentenced to six years in prison on November 3, although the exact charges against him were not immediately disclosed.

Mohammad Davari, Saham News
Imprisoned: September 5, 2009

Saham News, a Web site affiliated with presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi, reported that its editor-in-chief, Davari, had been detained. Seventeen days after his arrest, the journalist was allowed to contact his family, according to the Tahavolkhani news Web site. His mother said he was being held at Tehran's Evin Prison.

Davari was brought to trial on November 22 on charges of propagation against the regime, congregation and mutiny for disrupting national security, and creating chaos in public order.

In the weeks after the election, Davari had videotaped the testimony of inmates at Kahrizak Detention Center who alleged they had been raped and abused while in custody, according to the Free Iranian Journalists blog.

Negar Sayeh, freelance
Imprisoned: October 2009

Sayeh, a freelance journalist and author of the blog Shahr e Saye, was arrested in October, according to Norooz, a news Web site affiliated with reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Sayeh had previously worked as a reporter for Iranian state radio and television.

Sayeh's arrest came after her husband, Saeed Ghoreishi, was arrested along with dozens of people at a gathering to express solidarity with an imprisoned reformist, Norooz reported. He was released on November 24. No formal charges against Sayeh had been disclosed by late year.

Sayeh's blog entries were deleted. Her mother told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters that she with met prosecutors to object to the detention and the lack of information about the case. They said her daughter "had a personal blog where she wrote critical statements against authorities," the committee said.

Javad Mahzadeh, freelance
Imprisoned: October 22, 2009

Mahzadeh, a journalist and novelist, was arrested on his way to work on the orders of the Revolutionary Court's prosecutor's office, according to local news reports.

Mahzadeh, a political analyst and a literary critic who wrote for the Web sites Iranian Diplomacy and Baran, was well-known in Iran for the novel, Take Away Your Laughter. Authorities confiscated a computer from his home, according to news reports. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.

Nafiseh Zare Kohan, freelance
Imprisoned: November 4, 2009

Kohan wrote political commentary on her blog Roozmaregiha and contributed articles to Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site. She was arrested along with her husband, Hojjat Sharifi, an activist with a university student association.

After her original blog, Roozmaregiha, was blocked by the government, she started a new one, Roozmaregiha2, in 2008.

Kohan and her husband were transferred to an undisclosed facility. She was allowed to contact her sister once for a few minutes, according to the reformist news Web site Mowj-e Sabz. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.

Hasan Asadi Zeidabadi, freelance
Imprisoned: November 4, 2009

Zeidabadi contributed political commentary to Rooz Online, Etemad e Melli, and other reformist publications. The news Web site Bamdad Khabar reported that his wife was allowed to visit him briefly at Evin Prison in mid-November. He told his wife he was being kept in solitary confinement. She said he had been charged, but she could not disclose the details.

Zeidabadi is also a member of Advar Tahkim Vahdat, a politically active alumni organization that has been vocal in condemning recent government actions.

Mazdak Ali Nazari, Nasim Haraz Monthly and Journalism for Peace
Imprisoned: November 2009

Nazari, who won the Iranian Journalists Association's Best Journalist Award in 2007, was arrested at his home sometime in the second week of November, according news accounts and human rights groups.

Nazari was editor of Nasim Haraz Monthly, a cultural magazine, and editor-in-chief of Journalism for Peace, a critical Web site focusing on human rights. He is also author of the blog Zemzemeh Haye Divaneh. Nazari told his family about his arrest in a brief telephone call, but was unable to relay details, including his whereabouts, according to Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site.

Nazari had also worked for Etemad e Melli, the newspaper owned by defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi.

Sassan Aghaee, freelance
Imprisoned: November 22, 2009

Security forces raided the home of Aghaee, a seasoned journalist who contributed to a number of newspapers, including Farhikhtegan, Etemad, Tose'eh, Mardom Salari, and Etemad e Melli. He was also author of the blog Free Tribune.

Aghaee was being held at Evin Prison, according to news accounts. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year. In a letter the journalist asked to be opened in case of his arrest, Aghaee said any confessions he might make in custody should be disregarded as coerced, according to the reformist Web site Jaras.

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