The well-known reformist journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaie surrendered herself to Evin Prison authorities on January 12, 2016, to serve a one-year prison sentence.
Tabatabaie’s imprisonment follows a string of arrests of journalists and reformists, as hardliners in Iran move to silence moderate and independent voices ahead of critical Parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections in February 2016. While Tabatabaie had been banned from her journalistic work for two years as a result of her pro-reformist writings, she had continued to write on her Facebook page.
Tabatabaie’s mother, Shahnaz Siaghi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the authorities called their home and ordered her to report to prison after her request for extra time was granted to take care of some personal matters.
Tabatabaie, 35, was arrested on November 30, 2014, and a year later on November 17, 2015, she was sentenced by Judge Salavati of the Revolutionary Court to a year in prison and banned from political activities for two years for “propaganda against the state.”
“The propaganda charge was based on her membership in the National [Reformist] Youth Headquarters during the 2013 presidential elections, participation in a youth gathering in Shahr-e-Kord, and insulting two presidential candidates, Saeed Jalili and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, on her Facebook page,” Tabatabaie’s mother told the Campaign.
“Why should my daughter be punished for criticizing two presidential candidates on her Facebook page? She only expressed her opinion about why she would not vote for them. Why should she be punished for participating in a legal gathering along with many others? For the past two years, she has not been able to have any journalistic activities, because she was not allowed to do so,” Siaghi said.
“My daughter is going to prison for unjust reasons. It’s obvious they have summoned her only because of the upcoming Parliamentary elections. They knew Reyhaneh is a political activist and would campaign to get reformist candidates elected into the Parliament. That’s why they are throwing her into prison,” added Siaghi.
Tabatabaie wrote for the political sections of several reformist newspapers, such as Shargh, Farhikhtegan and Bahar. She was first arrested on December 12, 2010, and held for 36 days in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Ward 2-A in Evin Prison. She was found guilty of charges related to her activities in support of the Green Movement (the peaceful opposition movement that grew out of the widely disputed results of the 2009 presidential election in Iran) and sentenced by Judge Moghisseh of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court to six months in prison. She completed the sentence and was released in November 2014.
While in prison, Tabatabaie was again charged with and found guilty of the current charges for which she has begun serving the one-year sentence.