Jailed journalist Ehsan Mazandarani has threatened to go back on hunger strike following authorities’ failure to respond to his requests for evidence in the so-called “infiltration networks” scandal.
Writing to Iran’s Prosecutor-General Jafar Montazeri on September 13, the journalist, who has been in prison since November 2015, said he had not received a response to his demand in May that parliament should set up a “fact-finding commission” to investigate the cases of individuals who had been arrested on grounds of belonging to“infiltration networks” colluding with hostile Western governments. He also demanded that the judiciary organize a press conference for journalists accused of these charges to give them the opportunity to answer questions about their arrests and the charges against them. He insisted the arrests were politically motivated.
Mazandarani, who suffered a heart attack on June 20 after a prolonged hunger strike, also called for the “unconditional release” of the journalists accused of “infiltration” and pointed out that he had already served close to half of what he called his “illegal prison sentence”.
The journalist gave the prosecutor and other officials just over a week to respond to his recent demands, threatening to resume his hunger strike on September 22.
Revolutionary Guards arrested Ehsan Mazandarani in early November 2015 along with Afarin Chitsaz, a reporter and columnist for the official newspaper Iran, Ehsan Safarzaei (Saman), former reporter for the reformist paper Etemad and a part-time reporter for the monthly Andisheh Pouya, Davoud Asadi, the brother of France-based Hooshang Asadi, and independent journalist Isa Saharkhiz.
After their arrests the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit announced that they were members of “an infiltration network working for the British and American governments.”
Mazandarani’s previous demands, set out in a letter in May, said some politicians and parts of the media were using the term “infiltration” as a code word to settle political accounts. He said this amounted to lying to the supreme leader and the public — and, as a result, they should be put on trial.
Mazandarani’s letter also outlined a similar case against him in 2013, after the Intelligence Ministry arrested him for working with BBC Persian. The ministry released him on bail after a month, and closed the case against him — only for the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit to launch a fresh case on similar charges.