Gholamreza Mansouri, a former judge of Iran's Culture and Media Court has been involved in dozens of cases of jailing and torturing journalists and shutting down media. Detailed accounts by journalists of arrests and torture of them and family members have been documented.
He has now also been officially accused by Iranian authorities of corruption and bribery. Prosecutors of the Islamic Republic of Iran claimed on June 7 that the judge fled the country and called for his return to face the corruption charges against him. He is accused of receiving a 500,000 Euros bribe and is charged with ‘financial corruption’.
Journalists associations want the Romanian authorities to prosecute him as they claim there will be no chance in Iran to prosecute him for his human rights violations against journalists.
On Monday, 8 June, Mansouri recorded and published a video confirming that he was in Germany “on a medical trip” and very soon will return to Iran to “serve the regime”, which did not happen. A few days later, the Iranian Police confirmed that Mansouri had been arrested in Romania by Interpol.
The Islamic Republic of Iran announced that Mansouri will be extradited soon.
Extensive experience in prosecuting and torturing journalists
Several journalists inside and outside Iran have denounced their arrests, physical and mental torture by the security forces and having been kept as ‘hostages’ following Mansouri’s orders.
Hossein Mehrzad, a former jailed journalist reported on his Twitter account that in January 2013, several reformist and critical journalists were detained after a Mansouri ruling.
Based on reports, the journalists arrested that year included: Reyhaneh Tabatabaee, Akbar Montajabi, Saba Azarpeik, Sasan Aghaee, Javad Daliri, Keyvan Mehregan, Mohammad-Javad Rooh, Ehsan Mazandarani, Emili Omaraee, Narjes Judaki, Pouria Alami, Milad Fadaee Asl, Nasrin Takhayori, Soleiman Mohammadi, Pejman Musavi, Ali Dehghan, Fatemeh Sagharchi, and Hosein Yaghchi. Most of them are experienced critical and independent journalists.
Amongst them, journalist Pouria Alami confirmed that the warrant for his arrest was issued by Mansouri. ‘He told my mum that he issues verdicts for God sake’, added Alami.
In another case, Mahdi Mahdavi Azad, a journalist currently based in Berlin, stated that he met Mansouri when he was arrested in Iran. Mahdavi Azad wrote: ‘This briber taker judge was one of the guys that ruined my life. I do not forget his voice saying your blood is Halal.’ Mahdavi Azad confirmed that he was tortured physically and Judge Mansouri reacted saying: ‘you deserved that’.
Amirhossein Sabeti, a state TV channel’ host, claimed that he was sentenced to 91 days in jail as a result of his criticism of the former Head of Judiciary Sadegh Amoli Larijani. The ruling was signed by Mansouri.
In a very severe case, Mansouri ordered the arrest and torture of family members of GEM TV’s president, Saeed Karimian, who was shot dead in April 2017. GEM TV Group issued a statement and revealed that in 2013, Mansouri jailed the siblings of Saeed Karimian, in a bid to force him to shut down the entertainment channel. According to this statement, even though Karimian ceased broadcasting for 10 days, his siblings were not freed and suffered torture too.
Mansouri also ordered the closure of Shargh, the leading reformist newspaper in Iran.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Crimes against journalists can’t go unpunished. Many journalists denounced the crimes of Gholamreza Mansouri against them and now it’s time for justice. Together with several journalists’ associations and groups, we urge the Romanian government and prosecutors not to extradite Mansouri to Iran and to respond to the call of victimised journalists and prosecute Mansouri for his human rights violations”.