Massive Arrests of Journalists in Tehran After Prosecutor Hints “Mouthpiece of Enemy”
Security forces raided editorial rooms of Tehran-based newspapers and publications Bahar, Shargh, Arman, Etemad, and Aseman Weekly, and arrested several journalists who worked there. According to reports, the forces entered offices for the five publications simultaneously and in addition to arresting the journalists, searched and videotaped the premises.
The widespread arrests of Sunday took place while less than a week ago on Monday, January 21, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the Spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary said at a press conference that he had received information from “reliable sources” that indicated “unfortunately, today, other than writing in the country’s newspapers, several journalists have their hands in the hands of westerners and anti-revolutionaries.” He also prophecized the arrests of some journalists and told the repoters, “Now, tomorrow, if any of these individuals is arrested for a criminal act, you, too, will scream and yell, whereas, unbeknownst to you, that individual was the mouthpiece and podium of the enemy.” So far, the “criminal act” for which the said journalists were arrested has not been announced.
Fars News Agency, affiliated with the IRGC, confirmed the arrests of journalists whom it called “close to the sedition movement,” and said the reason for their arrests was “cooperation with Farsi-language anti-revolutionary media.” The news agency stated the number of arrested journalists as 11. The 2009 post-election dispute over the election results, spearheaded by presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, which brought on months of street protests and clashes, followed by widespread arrests and imprisonment, is referred to as “the sedition” or “the sedition movement” by government officials.
The arrested journalists who worked in the political, social, arts, and literature desks of the newspapers are: Pouria Alemi and Pejman Mousavi (Shargh Newspaper), Emily Amraee (Bahar Newspaper), Akbar Montajebi (Aseman Weekly), Sassan Aghaee, Javad Deliri and Nasrin Takhiri (Etemad Newspaper), Motahareh Shafiee and Narges Joudaki (Arman Newspaper).
Additionally, on Saturday, January 26, security forces arrested Soleiman Mohammadi, an editor with Bahar Newspaper and Milad Fadai Asl, Editor of Iran Labour News Ageny, ILNA’s, Political Desk, on the streeet and transferred them to Evin Prison. Only an hour after the arrests of journalists on Sunday, state-affiliated Mehr News Agency confirmed the news and wrote that their arrest was “telling of the cooperation of some of them with Farsi-language anti-revolutionary media.” The news agency indicated that all the journalists were arrested with judicial orders and announced that the Revolutionary Court Prosecutor’s Office will soon issue a statement in this matter.
Other unconfirmed news indicates that arrest warrants for several other journalists were also issued, but the journalists were not present at their respective newspapers to be arrested.