Ehsan Mazandarani, the former managing editor of the newspaper Farhikhtegan, was arrested on March 12 after being released just a few weeks before, according to his brother-in-law.
Mazandarani was released on February 11 after serving a sentence for being part of an “infiltration network” and colluding with hostile governments, reported Radio Farda. [link in Persian].
His brother-in-law Sam Hosseini believes Mazandarani’s arrest is part of a campaign against journalists to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, which is due to take place in May. There is a precedent for this: Prior to the presidential election of 2013, 18 journalists, including Mazandarani, were arrested. All spent time in prison.
Immediately after his re-arrest, Mazandarani went on hunger strike in protest against his “illegal, political and arbitrary” arrest.
According to Hossein, Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit agents arrived at Mazandarani’s home at noon on March 12, called him to the building’s parking lot, physically assaulted him, and then took him away.
Iranian media had reported Mazandarani’s release on February 11. Hossein said that, prior to his release, Mazandarani had written two letters to Fataneh Fattahi, the official responsible for implementing the verdicts of the Culture and Media Court. He had requested information regarding the exact date his sentence would end. Fattahi had then specified February 11 as his release date. But the agents who arrested Mazandarani on March 12 claimed that Fattahi had stated that he had not served his sentence, a fact that he had set out in a letter to the Head of the Intelligence Unit, Hossein Taeb. According to the agents, Fattahi had said Mazandarani was scheduled to return to prison but had escaped into hiding. Considering that he was arrested at his home the words “escape” and “hiding” seemed to be at odds with the specifics of the arrest.
After his arrest, during a short phone call, Mazandarani informed his family that he had been transferred to Ward 6 of Evin prison
In November 2015, Revolutionary Guards arrested Ehsan Mazandarani and three other journalists — Afarin Chitsaz, Saman Safarzaei and Davoud Asadi. They were accused of being members of an “infiltration network” colluding with hostile Western governments. In April 2016 the four journalists were sentenced to a total of 27 years in prison but the court of appeals reduced the prison sentence of Mazandarani from seven to two years.
On June 20, 2016 Mazandarani suffered a heart attack. He had been suffering from severe health problems as a result of a prolonged hunger strike and being held in solitary confinement for four months. In October 2016 he was released from prison temporarily and sent to a hospital for medical treatment.