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Washington, D.C., February 13, 2024—Iranian authorities must immediately release four journalists from the FardayeEghtesad news site who have been detained since February 5, drop any charges against them, and answer for the raid on their outlet and mass detention of 30 staff, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

Around 2 p.m. on February 5, security forces raided the newsroom of the privately owned multimedia economic news website FardayeEghtesad in Argentina Square in the capital, Tehran, detained all 30 staff inside the building, searched the newsroom, and confiscated everyone’s cellphones and other electronic devices, such as laptops.

The families of the journalists gathered outside the building shortly after as authorities kept the journalists incommunicado. After 14 hours, the security forces released most of the staff, according to those sources, which said authorities did not provide any explanation for the detention.

Five journalists were detained in the newsroom for four days.

Ali Mirzakhani, editor-in-chief of FardayeEghtesad, was released on February 9. The other four journalists—deputy editor Behzad Bahman-Nejad and video journalists Ali Tasnimi, Mehrdad Asgari, and Nikan Khabazi—were transferred on February 9 to an undisclosed location.

As of February 13, the four journalists were detained in Shapoor Police Department in downtown Tehran, according to news reports, which said the journalists were taken to their newsroom multiple times and were questioned for long hours while security forces repeatedly searched the newsroom.

The journalists have been denied access to legal representation, and their families have not been told the reason for their arrest, according to those reports. CPJ was unable to determine whether the journalists had been formally charged.

“Iranian authorities must free journalists Behzad Bahman-Nejad, Ali Tasnimi, Mehrdad Asgari, and Nikan Khabazi immediately and unconditionally and cease the practice of arbitrarily locking up members of the press,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Such group detentions show, shamefully, that authorities do not find it necessary to disclose even a minimum of details about why these reporters have been arrested. Authorities must answer for the raid on the outlet and mass detention of 30 journalists.”

CPJ’s review of FardayeEghtesad shows that although authorities have not suspended the news website, its content hasn’t been updated since February 4.

Iran was the world’s sixth-worst jailer of journalists in CPJ’s most recent annual prison census, with 17 imprisoned journalists as of December 1, 2023.

CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment on the case but did not receive any response.

This content originally appeared on Committee to Protect Journalists and was authored by Committee to Protect Journalists.


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