Iranian security forces have arrested a blogger who had shared posts about a wave of poisonings at girls’ schools, local media report.
Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said the influencer’s Instagram page was blocked and all the posts were deleted following the arrest on March 9.
It did not disclose the name of the person arrested but said the blogger was from the northwestern city of Urmia and that he had more than 700,000 followers.
"The blogger had been insulting various sectors of society, including journalists and police officers, and had been trying to create tensions and disturb the psychological atmosphere during recent events in society," according to Tasnim.
Some of the blogger's posts were published on HamshahriOnline, which also reported the arrest and said the blogger is accused of spreading "rumors and inciting fear about the poisoning of students."
The authorities have recently arrested a journalist and launched judicial proceedings against several other individuals and newspapers, in what Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described as an apparent attempt to control the narrative surrounding the poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls since November 2022.
Some Iranians have suggested that the poisonings could be an attempt to force the closure of girls’ schools or a retaliation for students and women leading ongoing nationwide protests sparked by the September death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police.
The authorities have cracked down hard on the women-led protest movement, killing more than 520 people and illegally detaining over 19,000, activists say. After biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
Dozens of journalists were among those arrested. According to RSF, 31 journalists remain behind bars, including nine who were arrested before the demonstrations began.