The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Iranian authorities to immediately release two journalists and environmental activists, Nasim Tavafzadeh and Helaleh Nategheh, and stop trying to silence media workers by jailing them.
“It is vitally important for the Iranian people to access truthful reporting on government policies, like the environment,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement on November 14.
Tavafzadeh, a social activist, environmental advocate and the editor-in-chief of the news website Moroor.org, as well as Nategheh, an environmental reporter for the same media outlet, were arrested in the northern city of Rasht on November 11 amid a widening government crackdown on dissent and the media.
The two journalists were apprehended by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s (IRGC) Intelligence Organization and were taken to an undisclosed location.
The authorities have not disclosed the reason for detaining them.
Tavafzadeh and Nategheh were among at least 20 women activists who were detained and had their electronic devices confiscated in mass raids in Rasht.
Those detained also included two writers, Rosita Rajaei and Nina Golestani, as well as the manager of a safehouse for animals, Anahita Hejazi.
“Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the two female journalists and the many others arrested in Rasht and realize that censoring the media does nothing to address the challenges that the government is facing,” Mansour said.
Iran ranked as the world’s worst jailer of journalists when CPJ conducted its most recent census of imprisoned journalists worldwide on December 1, 2022.
Approximately 100 journalists were among more than 10,000 people unlawfully detained in the wake of nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly.
Many journalists have been released on bail while awaiting trial or have been issued summonses to serve multi-year sentences, CPJ said.