Iranian-British journalist Bahman Daroshafaei was released on bail today, February 23.
Daroshafaei, 34, a dual Iranian-British national and former employee of the BBC’s Persian service, was arrested in Tehran on February 3, 2016 and transferred to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
Arresting officers did not present a warrant when they arrived at Daroshafaei’s home early on February 3 and his family has not been able to find out about who arrested him, why he was arrested, or what charges he might be facing.
In a letter on February 10, Daroshafaei’s mother appealed to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to free her son. “My son has been in solitary confinement for a week for doing no wrong,” she wrote.
Daroshafaei had reportedly been working as a translator for Mahi Publishing Company and for an NGO focusing on vulnerable children and women.
After living in the United Kingdom for several years, he returned to Iran in September 2014 to be near his family. But when he arrived at the airport, authorities seized his passport. Since his arrival, Intelligence Ministry officials have reportedly interrogated Daroshafaei more than 40 times about his activities as a journalist.
FreeBahman, a Twitter campaign run by Daroshafaei’s friends and colleagues, published news of his release.
“Good news: Bahman has been released on bail,” said the tweet, which was shown alongside a photograph of Bahman outside of Evin Prison.
Daroshafaei is one of dozens of Iranian journalists, poets and artists arrested or sentenced to prison in what appears to be a preventive crackdown on free expression in the run-up to Friday’s elections for parliament and the powerful Assembly of Experts, which will choose the next supreme leader.
According to human rights organizations, the arrest of Daroshafaei has shown the risk that dual citizens, or Iranians who have lived abroad, face if they choose to live in Iran. Although Iran’s moderate president Rouhani has encouraged Iranians in the diaspora to return, many have been arrested and prosecuted – often accused of being spies – when they have done so.
A well-known case is that of American-Iranian Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who spent 18 months in Evin Prison on espionage charges. He was released last month along with and three other US-Iranian nationals in a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States.