Drop All Charges Against Iranian Journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei, Says IFJ

The General Secretary of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called upon the Islamic Republic’s authorities to drop “all charges” against Iranian journalist, Reyhaneh Tabatabaei. Ms. Tabatabaei has been behind bars since January 12, 2016.

“We are greatly concerned by the fabricated charges that Reyhaneh is charged with. This journalist has been doing her job with due respect to journalistic standards and we see no reason why she should serve any other term in jail for exercising her freedom of speech. We ask the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against her,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement.

Tabatabaei has been arrested three times in the last eight years on charges related to her work.

Ms. Tabatabaei was originally arrested on December 12, 2010, by the Islamic Revolution Guardians Corps (IRGC) intelligence agents who interrogated and charged her with “trying to deny the supervisory role of the Guardian Council over elections”. She spent 36 days in solitary confinement, before she was released on bail.

But, in April 2011, she was sentenced to one year in prison. She was arrested for the second time on January 31, 2013 as part of a widespread clampdown on journalists. The prosecutor charged Tabatabaei and three of her colleagues with “intent to write a manifesto against the regime”, which is classified as a security offense. The prosecutor charged Tabatabaei and three of her colleagues with “intent to write a manifesto against the regime”, which is classified as a security offense.

Reyhaneh Tabatabaei, 37, is a journalist and a political activist. She works for the Iranian reformist news web site Emtedad and used to work for several reformist newspapers including Shargh, Farhikhtegan and Bahar.

Tabatabaei was tried in court three times in the past 8 years. In 2010 she was arrested under charges of “propaganda against the regime” and spent 36 days in confinement. She was sentenced to a one-year jail term and served a 6-month sentence in Tehran’s notorious prison, Evin. The journalist has already spent a total of one and a half year behind bars, said IFJ.

In June 2014, when journalist and political activist Hossein Noorani Nejad was sentenced to six years in prison, Reyhaneh Tabatabaei wrote on her Facebook page: “the message is loud and clear.” Soon after, she was called into the prosecutor’s office at Evin Prison, and was told a new charge had been brought against her: propaganda against the regime.

A few days later, on June 21, 2014, she was arrested. Tabatabaei’s family settled the bail immediately, but she was not released. Instead, she was taken to the women’s ward at Evin Prison to serve a previous sentence of two years.

In addition to Tabatabaei’s journalism and her support for the Green Movement, other aspects of her work have been held against her, including Facebook activity; those who have commented on her page have no doubt had their names put on file too. Even Tabatabaei’s charity work, such as a trip to the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan to help orphan children, has been used as evidence against her.

Tabatabaei was informed of her sentence on November 17, 2015. Judge Salavati – who is famous for his harsh sentences – sentenced her to one year in prison and a two-year ban on joining political parties and writing for any newspaper or website on charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime.” On January 12, 2016, she began serving her prison term at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

The IFJ has relentlessly raised its concerns over the persecution of journalists in Iran.