Iran gives long jail sentences to reformist journalists

These four journalists were not only reformers, but supported Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Nevertheless, they were sentenced to long prison terms on trumped-up charges. The New York Times reports:

An Iranian revolutionary court handed down long prison terms on Tuesday to four journalists supportive of the government of President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian news media reported. All were convicted on charges of having acted against national security.

Noting that Mr. Rouhani has called for more press freedom in several speeches, analysts said the prison sentences were a warning by Iran’s conservative-dominated judiciary that it would not accept any relaxation of the rules for journalists.

A prominent reporter and actress, Afarin Chitsaz, was sentenced to 10 years, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. Last year, she wrote an impassioned defense of the nuclear agreement between Iran and major world powers in the daily Iran, an official government newspaper.


Ten years.

All of the journalists worked for reformist newspapers. They included the editor in chief of Farhikhtegan, Eshan Manzandarani, who received a seven-year sentence.


Seven years.

The other two were Davood Asadi, who received five years, and Eshan Safarzaiee, who received seven years.


Asadi; five years. No photo available for Safarsaiee

The four were arrested in November by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on suspicion of assisting the United States in ‘‘infiltrating” the country. Ms. Chitsaz was also convicted of “having connections with foreign governments,” her lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, said in an interview. “I will appeal this decision,” he said.

. . . Over the last decade, dozens of reformist newspapers have been closed by the Iranian judiciary and hundreds of reporters have been imprisoned, a campaign of intimidation that has forced many to tone down criticism or to seek other jobs.

They will be jailed for one “crime”: urging reform. Five or more years in an Iranian jail is a damn severe punishment.



  1. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it’s just me being sensitive to this type of thing, but I can’t help noticing that it was the woman who received the most severe sentence.

    Oftentimes, when women step outside the bounds imposed by society, they are judged more harshly than men. It seems that this rule applies more strongly in a more misogynistic society where the rules applied to the behaviour of women are more strictly prescribed.

    • eric
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I noticed that too. But I haven’t read any of the statements that got them jailed (beyond what’s mentioned in JAC’s post), so its hard to say whether she got the larger sentence because the regime found her content more upsetting, or because they found it equally upsetting but also wanted to discourage women from even considering speaking up at the same time.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        You’re quite right. From what Jerry writes she had an additional charge slapped on her. It’s hard to know why that was when the charges are trumped up anyway. There is a fear in conservative Islam though of women being influenced by the West, and I wonder if the additional charge she faced of “having connections with foreign governments” is related to that fear.

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      I had exactly the same thought.


  2. W. Benson
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Support should be given to Hassan Rouhani and his efforts to liberalize Iranian society. It is counter-productive to vilify Iran as a whole. Progress, if it comes, will be slow and not necessarily without set backs. The NY Times report quoted by Jerry suggests that the sentences are not final and appeals to the convictions are in the works.

    • eric
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      the sentences are not final and appeals to the convictions are in the works

      “Sure, President Rouhani, we’ll drop the charges against these journalists. If you will only roll back the following policies…”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I think it should be obvious to everyone by now that there is a struggle going on in Iran between the forces of liberalism and the entrenched theocracy. IMO sanctions and threats are not helpful – they just strengthen the hand of the theocrats.

        (Which is why the US elections are of vital interest to us all, not just ‘Muricans. Can you imagine the Trump ‘negotiating’ with Iran?)


  3. Cindy
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Iranian women speak about their hatred of the hijab

  4. Posted April 28, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Iran takes another step back into the Dark Ages. Why, oh why?

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