The prison sentence of reformist journalist Ehsan (Saman) Safarzaei has been reduced from five to two years, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. Safarzaei’s lawyer, Iman Mirzadeh, confirmed he received the ruling in writing from Branch 36 of Tehran’s Appeals Court on August 15, 2016.
An informed source told the Campaign that Safarzaei could become eligible for conditional release in November 2016 if the prosecutor takes into consideration Safarzaei’s lack of a prior record and time already served in prison.
Safarzaei and three other journalists were arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization during a wave of arrests in November 2015 and accused of being part of a foreign-instigated “infiltration” plot designed to spread anti-Iranian propaganda. He was interrogated for a month and held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A, which is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, before being moved to the general Ward 8.
In April 2016 Safarzaei was sentenced to five years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security” by Judge Mohammad Mogisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court.
Safarzaei was arrested on November 2, 2015, the same day as prominent reformist journalist Issa Saharkhiz, reformist journalist Ehsan Mazandarani, and columnist Afarin Chitsaz. Davoud Assadi, a marketing manager and the brother of Paris-based dissident Iranian journalist Houshang Assadi, was also arrested on November 2.
Saharkhiz is still awaiting his sentence; his case was referred to a criminal court after he was accused of “insulting” Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mazandarani was initially sentenced to seven years in prison, but his sentence was reduced to two years on appeal in July 2016.
Chitsaz, presently free on bail while awaiting the Appeal Court’s decision, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May 2016. Assadi was sentenced to five years in prison in April 2016.