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Iran, July 10, 2014

New Wave of Arrests and Prison Sentences Against Journalists in Iran

The prominent journalist Marzieh Rasouli was summoned to Evin Prison on July 8, 2014, for the implementation of her sentence of 50 lashes and two years' imprisonment, she announced on Twitter, even though Rasouli has not yet received confirmation of the initial sentence from the appeals court.

"They quickly want to implement the sentence," she added on Twitter.

Her case is one of many recently, reflecting a current wave of arrests, prosecution under vague national security grounds, and imprisonment of journalists in Iran.

Rasouli was arrested on the eve of January 17, 2012, at her home in Tehran. She was detained for 40 days in Section 2-A of Evin Prison under the supervision of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. She was released on payment of bail set at 300 million tomans (about $100,000) but was found guilty of "propaganda against the state" and "disturbing public order by participating in gatherings," for which she received the two years and 50 lashes sentence. Rasouli is a veteran journalist who has worked for several reformist publications, including Shargh, Kargozaran, and Etemad newspapers. She writes on culture, music, and literature and has not been involved in any political activities.

Meanwhile, another journalist, Rayhaneh Tabatabaie, was summoned to Evin Prison on June 21, 2014, to begin serving her six-month sentence at the facility's Women's Ward, on charges related to publishing news about the opposition Green Movement.

In addition, a third female journalist, Saba Azarpayk, working for the Etemad newspaper and the Tejarat-e Farda weekly, was arrested on May 28, 2014, and has been held ever since in IRGC's Ward 2-A at Evin Prison. The only information about her situation, only surfaced on July 9 when her lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaie told the Iranian media Azarpeyk has been indicted under the charges of "propaganda against the state" and "dissemination of falsehoods."

On April 21, 2014, the journalist Hossein Nouraninejad was arrested by security forces and taken to IRGC's Ward 2-A at Evin Prison. He was released nearly two months later on June 16, on 200 million toman bail ($77,600), and is awaiting sentencing on charges of "propaganda against the state" and "acting against national security."

Another prominent journalist and former central council member of the Tahkim Vahdat student organization, Serajeddin Mirdamadi, is in temporary detention at Section 2-A, awaiting trial at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on August 2 on charges of "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security."

The veteran Iranian journalist Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, who has served as the chief editor of several newspapers, wrote on his Facebook page on June 29, 2014, that judiciary officials havecharged him with "propaganda against the state" for his speeches at international and regional journalism conferences. He has been freed on bail of approximately $80,000 and banned from traveling outside the country for the second time.