Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, a prominent Iranian journalist, activist and former political prisoner, has reportedly been arrested and detained in Evin Prison.
Agents from the Iranian Intelligence Ministry arrested Tabarzadi in a Tehran street on Tuesday, May 17, according to the Democratic Front of Ian, a banned party. Tabarzadi serves as the party’s secretary-general.
His son, Ali Tabarzadi, wrote on Facebook that his father had left the house in the morning and had not returned by evening.
The reason for the arrest is unclear. Iranian authorities have repeatedly detained Tabarzadi over the past 20 years for exercising basic civil liberties, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. He has spent a total of more than 12 years in prison, and was only released in July 2015.
Then, on March 12, 2016, Tabarzadi announced on his Facebook page that he had been summoned to the prosecutor’s office.
“If they arrest I won’t talk during the integrations, and I will immediately go on hunger strike,” Tabarzadi wrote. “I will defend my human rights whether I am free or not. Yes, I will talk. I will talk about injustice, tyranny, discrimination, cronyism, and violations of other people’s rights. I will defend the right to freedom of speech, religion, assembly and elections. I will defend the rights of prisoners of conscience, political prisoners and social movements. Do not frighten us with prison, torture and execution. I have given up on everything for years but I have also troubled your sweet dreams. I announce right now that I am a candidate for the next presidential election.”
Tabarzadi was most recently arrested when he took part in the Green Movement protest rallies in the wake of the disputed 2009 presidential election. Before being imprisoned, he was the managing editor of the magazine Payam-e Daneshjou (Students’ Message). A Revolutionary Court sentenced him to eight years in prison on charges of conspiracy, insulting the supreme leader and propaganda against the regime, and banned him from participating in any social or political activity for 10 years.
After serving five and a half years in prison, Tabarzadi was released on June 30, 2015, but he is still banned from engaging in social and political activities. In an interview with Journalism Is Not A Crime one day after his release, Tabarzadi said: “The constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom to belong to political parties, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. Until we achieve these I cannot remain silent. Writing and talking is my job. I will continue my activities.”