Veteran Journalist Charged with Propaganda Against State
Shamsolvaezin Released on Bail of US$80,000 and Banned from Travel
The veteran Iranian journalist Mashallah Shamsolvaezin has been charged with “propaganda against the state” for interviews and speeches he has given. Mr. Shamsolvaezin wrote on his Facebook page that when he appeared before the Evin Prison Court on June 29, 2014 following a summons, he was interrogated for two hours, informed of the charges, and released on bail of 2 billion rials (approximately US $80,000). Shamsolvaezin has also been banned from foreign travel.
“I did not accept the charges. I said propaganda against someone needs to have both material and non-material elements, both of which I lack. I am a journalist and criticizing things within the framework of the law is a natural tool of my profession,” he wrote on his Facebook page. He added that the deed to his mother’s home was submitted to the court as collateral for his bail.
Shamsolvaezin was also informed on June 21, 2014 that he has been banned from foreign travel for the second time. He had been banned from travel in 2009 following his arrest by security agents, but in a December 16, 2013 interview with ISNA, he said that the Intelligence Ministry had contacted him to inform him that his travel ban had been revoked. “The revocation of my travel ban is an indication that conditions are improving in the country. I hope that the Press Association can also be re-opened in this atmosphere,” he told ISNA.
In a June 21, 2014 interview with ISNA, Shamsolvaezin said that he didn’t know which organization had issued him the summons regarding his travel ban. “It’s not clear from the summons which organization issued it. I have been informed of my travel ban and advised that I can object to this ruling within the next 20 days by appearing in court,” he said.
Mashallah Shamsolvaezin was the Deputy Chairman of the (still banned) Iranian Press Association and the Spokesperson for the Association for the Defense of Freedom of the Press. He was a founder of many major reformist newspapers during the Mohammad Khatami presidency, all of which were banned later. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Jame’eh, Tous, Neshat, and Asr-e Azadegan newspapers, and was also the Editor-in-Chief of Kian Magazine in the 1990s. He attempted to re-open the previously banned Newspaper Neshat in 2013, following Hassan Rouhani’s election, but after hiring a staff and embarking on four months of work to re-start the publication, Neshat was shut down on December 2, 2013 by the Iranian Judiciary just as it was preparing to take its first issue to newsstands.