Authorities in Iran detain five local journalists, at least two of which are known to have openly criticized the government.
Authorities in Iran detained five local journalists recently amid an ongoing crackdown on expression in the Islamic Republic, The Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday, citing Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
The report identified two of the journalists as reformists Isa Saharkhiz and Ehsun Mazandarani. It did not name the others.
According to AP, Saharkhiz, who was released in 2013 after serving years in prison following Iran’s 2009 postelection turmoil, has openly criticized the government in interviews with foreign media.
Mazandarani, once detained in 2012, was working as the editor-in-chief of the moderate daily newspaper Farhikhtegan.
Iran is notorious for its crackdown on media outlets and for restricting freedom of expression. In 2013, a dozen journalists were arrested and jailed in Iran on suspicion of cooperating with Persian-language foreign media outlets.
The arrested reporters were accused of having ties to “anti-revolutionary” media, a term which usually means cooperation with international media outlets.
A month earlier, Iranian authorities hauled in nearly a dozen journalists in a similar crackdown, accusing them of cooperation with foreign news outlets as well.
All publications in Iran must be approved by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to ensure they comply with the Islamic republic’s strict code of morality.
Tehran also blocks access to numerous websites, including Facebook and Twitter, to stop Iranians from browsing content it considers immoral, or as undermining the regime.
The crackdown continues despite promises by President Hassan Rouhani, who Iran claims is a “moderate” and more open president, to allow greater freedom of expression.
Opposition activists have repeatedly warned that not only has Rouhani failed to keep his promises, the situation in Iran during his presidency is worse than it was under his hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.