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Violations against women journalists and activists continue in Iran

The following statement was originally published on on 20 December 2016.

20.12.2016 - Woman photographer arrested, another freed on bail
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Rahil Moussavi, a young photojournalist, was arrested in the southern city of Khorramshahr on 8 December after covering a gathering of environmentalists who are concerned about the River Karun. She was injured at the time of her arrest when plainclothes police officers tried to grab her camera. Her family has received no news of her since then.

RSF has also learned that Alieh Motalebzadeh, a photojournalist and women's rights activists, was freed on bail of 300 million toman (270,000 euros) on 19 December pending trial. She had been arrested on 26 November.

02.12.2016 - Filmmaker back in prison, facing 223 lashes
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns documentary filmmaker Kaivan Karimi's re-arrest last week to being serving a one-year jail sentence in connection with his filmmaking. He is also sentenced to 223 lashes.

Karimi was first arrested by Revolutionary Guards on 14 December 2013 and spent two days Tehran's Evin prison before being freed on bail. A court sentenced him on 9 October 2015 to six years in prison and 223 lashes on a charge of insulting Islam for making a documentary about graffiti and a video for a singer who lives abroad. He was also convicted of “immoral relations” for greeting a woman with a kiss and a handshake.

In March 2016, a Tehran appeal court reduced his sentence to one year in prison and four years suspended. But it maintained the 223 lashes and a fine of 2 million toman (2,000 euros). Iran has yet to ratify the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

RSF has also learned that Yashar Soltani, the editor of the online newspaper, was freed provisionally on 12 November. He was summoned and jailed by the culture and media court on 17 September, a few days after posting documents on his website revealing details of the Tehran city hall's sale of land and apartments to senior government officials and members of the municipal council.

30.11.2016 - Iranian TV reporter killed in Aleppo
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is saddened to learn that Mohsen Khazai, a reporter with state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) for the past 20 years, was killed by a shell in Magnan, a western suburb of the Syrian city of Aleppo, on 12 November. His cameraman, Tamer Sandough, was wounded by the blast but his injuries are not life-threatening. Aged 44 and the father of three children, Khazai had been covering the fighting in Syria for the past three years and was embedded with pro-Assad Iranian fighters.

28.11.2016 – Photojournalist arrested in Tehran
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns photojournalist and women rights activist Alieh Motalebzadeh's arrest in Tehran. A contributor to the website of the “One Million Signatures” campaign for the repeal of laws that discriminate against women, she was arrested on 26 November after being summoned and interrogated twice at the intelligence ministry, her husband Sadra Abdollahi said.

“Plainclothesmen from the intelligence ministry came to the house on 18 October to carry out a search without a warrant,” he said yesterday. “They took away all the identity documents and bank cards, including mine and our daughter's. Alieh was summoned to the ministry a week later.”

After the first interrogation, she wrote to the intelligence ministry objecting to the fact that she had been questioned for six hours. As a result of this letter, she was able to recover some of the confiscated documents. “Yesterday, she responded to an official summons to go and recover the rest of her possessions,” Abdollahi added. “But she called her family in the evening to say she had been detained in Evin prison.”

According to the information obtained by RSF, Motalebzadeh and several other women's rights activists were summoned and interrogated illegally by intelligence ministry officials after returning from a trip abroad during which they participated in a meeting on women's rights.

Before this latest wave of harassment, other women's rights activists, including several journalists, had been summoned and questioned since March. Homa Hoodfar, a university academic with French and Canadian dual nationality, was arrested and charged with spying. After being held for 112 days, she was freed “for humanitarian reasons” – the first time that such grounds were given for the release of a female detainee in Iran.

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