Iran: IFJ asks authorities to release two arrested journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrest of two Iranian journalists and called for their immediate release. Sadra Mohaqeq and Yashar Soltani were arrested in recent days following reports they published on corruption in the local authorities and in land deals. On 19 September, the editor of the newspaper Shargh Daily, Sadra Mohaqeq, was arrested by the Iranian intelligence forces at his home in the capital, Tehran, according to media. He was accused of being an “infiltrator” and “collaborator who worked for anti-revolutionary media outlets” after he reported on alleged corruption in Tehran’s municipal government. Yashar Soltani, editor of the architecture and urban-development news website Memari News, was jailed by the Tehran’s Second Press Court on 17 September and he is pending trial as he was unable to post bail of $63,700. Local media didn’t specify the charges he faces. The jailing comes after a criminal complaint filed by Tehran’s mayor and the chairman of Tehran’s Municipal Council against Memari News based on an August 23 report alleging corruption in land deals, media added. Soltani had stressed that Memari News’s report had been based on public information and thus the website had not violated any law in publishing it. The IFJ expressed its deep and serious concerns over the arrests and called for them to be set free without delay. “The Iranian authorities can’t arbitrarily persecute and jail journalists who are simply doing their job of informing the public. They should stop using the arsenal of repressive laws and its penal code to imprison and intimidate journalists and silence critical journalism. These actions violate the Iranian constitution which guarantees press freedom and contradict international law. We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately release our colleagues and to investigate the alleged corruption instead of the work of journalists,” said IFJ President, Philippe Leruth.

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