Reporters Without Borders: Relatives of journalists are taken hostage in Iran
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a statement today condemning the Islamic Republic of Iran’s practice of arresting the relatives of the Iranian journalists abroad as hostages.
The statement reads: “Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Iran’s arrests of relatives of the US-based Iranian journalist and human rights defender Masih Alinejad and the continuing judicial harassment of the families of independent journalists and those working for foreign media outlets.”
The statement begins by explaining the arrest of Masih Alinejad’s brother in Iran by the regime in order to pressure her. Her brother had released a video earlier reporting that the regime is pressuring their family to publicly condemn Masih Alinejad.
The RSF statement then goes on to mention several cases in which relatives of journalists or human rights advocates have been arrested: “Farangis Mazloom, the mother of Soheil Arabi, the winner of the 2017 RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category, was arrested on 22 July after drawing attention to the conditions in which he is being held. Sharzad Jafari, the sister of detained photojournalist Noushin Jafari, was arrested for similar reasons two weeks after her sister’s arrest on 3 August. She was released after being detained for three days. There has been no news of either of them since then.”
The statement also mentions the regime’s pressure on international media: “International media outlets are also subjected to harassment, even if the regime tries to maintain appearances. In the past year, RSF has registered at least 25 cases of pressure being put on Iranian journalists based abroad and their families in Iran.”
It is explained that in most of such cases, Article 508, which penalizes “collaborating with a state at war with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” is used to persecute the relatives of journalists and rights advocates.
Iran is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.