Reformist journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaie was released from Evin Prison in Tehran on January 5, 2017 after serving a one-year sentence for interviewing Iranian Sunni leaders, posting critical commentary about conservative politicians on Facebook, and publicly supporting reformists.
The ongoing campaign of intimidation and prosecution against journalists and other members of the media in Iran by hardliners—which has not only focused on the reformist press but also targeted centrist journalists with close ties to the administration of President Hassan Rouhani—is expected to grow as the country’s May 2017 presidential election draws closer.
“Why should my daughter be punished for criticizing two presidential candidates on her Facebook page?” Tabatabaie’s mother, Shahnaz Siaghi, told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in January 2016. “She only expressed her opinion about why she would not vote for them.”
“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 (city), and insulting two presidential candidates, Saeed Jalili and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, on her Facebook page,” she added.
Iranian reformists generally favor more liberal domestic policies and dovish foreign policies than their conservative counterparts and are regularly persecuted by hardliners.
Tabatabie has worked for several news outlets in Iran including Chelcheragh and Iran-e Farda, Sina News Network, and newspapers Farhikhtegan, Kalameh Sabz, Bahar and Shargh,” according to the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA).
Tabatabie, 36, was arrested in November 30, 2014 and charged with “propaganda against the state.” In November 2015 she was sentenced to one year in prison and banned from working in the media for two years by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.
Previously Tabatabeie served six months in prison between June and November 2014 for “activities aimed at implementing free elections and publishing news about the Green Movement,” the peaceful opposition movement that grew out of Iran’s widely disputed 2009 presidential election.