By Kayhan Life Staff
Iranian security forces in Tehran detained several journalists at the offices of the Fardaye Eghtesad news website in Tehran on Feb. 5, effectively holding them as “hostages.”
According to some reports, members of an unidentified security agency detained 30 journalists from the Fardaye Eghtesad in their offices in Tehran since midday on Feb. 5. As a result, the news agency could not update its online pages.
Some reports indicated that the concerned families of the detained journalists gathered outside the news agency’s building after failing to contact them on their cellphones.
Upon arriving at the news agency’s offices on Argentina Street in Tehran, family members discovered that the entire building was controlled by security forces who prevented people from entering or leaving the premises.
It is unclear which security agency stormed the news agency and detained the journalists and staff of Fardaye Eghtesad.
Several journalists were reportedly released a few hours later. However, their mobile phones and other electronic devices were seized.
“The families gathered outside the newspaper’s offices do not know the exact number of journalists detained in the offices,” Shargh Online News said. “They have no information about the security agency involved in the raid or the reason for detaining the journalists.”
“According to family members of one of the detained reporters, Fardaye Eghtesad employs 30 journalists. Since Monday evening, around three journalists have been permitted to leave the building, but the exact number of journalists still inside the building is unknown,” Shargh added.
The Young Journalist Club (YJC) news agency also reported on Feb. 6 that Iranian security agents had spent several hours at Fardaye Eghtesad the previous night searching the offices and detaining the journalists. The families of the detained journalists had no information about the conditions of those still in the building.
Fardaye Eghtesad is a liberal-leaning news website whose managing editor is Ali Mirzakhani, one of the most prominent journalists in the country. It is hoped that the issue affecting these individuals will be resolved promptly.
Maryam Shokrani, Shargh newspaper’s economics editor, broke the news about the raid on Fardaye Eghtesad on “X” (formerly known as Twitter).
“Several Fardaye Eghtesad reporters were not answering their mobile phones from 2:00 p.m. [local time],” Ms. Shokrani said. “Families of these journalists had gathered in front of the building where they work in Argentine Square, but they could not get any information about the incident. The only information they received was that the reporters were safe.”
In a follow-up post, Shokrani noted that the mobile phones and electronic devices of Fardaye Entekhab journalists had been confiscated, including those belonging to the journalists who had been released.
“While we were investigating the detention of Fardaye Eghtesad reports, a persistent soldier stopped the car for [alleged] hijab [violation],” Shokrani said in another “X” post.
Shortly after the incident, Mohammad Taheri, who works at Fardaye Eghtesad economic desk, said on “X”: “We are concerned about our dear colleagues at Fardaye Eghtesad.”
“Fardaye Eghtesad is in the building owned by Kian Financial Group. According to some informed friends, the situation has nothing to do with Fardaye Eghtesad. If there is an issue, it is related to the parent company,” Mr. Taheri explained.
“Most people at Kian Financial Group have been released; only a few managers remain in the building,” Taheri said in another post. “As mentioned, the issue relates to Kian Financial Group and not Fardaye Eghtesad.”
However, writing about her colleagues, Zeinab Rahimi, an environmental journalist for Fardaye Eghtesad, said on “X”: “Contrary to inaccurate reports, upon arriving at Fardaye Eghtesad, we discovered several reporters were still detained inside.”
— Zeinab rahimi (@znbrahimi) February 5, 2024
The post included undated footage reportedly showing families of the journalist outside the offices of Fardaye Eghtesad.
Police and security forces targeted newspapers during the controversial 2009 presidential elections, which handed the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office. During that summer of protest, the Islamic Republic security forces shut down several newspapers.
The recent arbitrary 24-hour detention of Fardaye Eghtesad reporters with no explanation or legal basis is another blow to the already restricted Iranian media and community of journalists.
In the past four decades, the Islamic Republic has transformed the country into a prison for journalists, with hundreds being summoned, arrested, imprisoned, or forced to leave Iran.
According to a report by the International Federation of Journalists, 83 journalists and photographers have been arrested in Iran since the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini while in the custody of the Morality Police in September 2022, which sparked a nationwide protest that morphed into a global movement under the slogan ‘Woman, Life, Freedom.’
Since then, at least 21 journalists have been sentenced to prison or tried on trumped-up charges of “propaganda against the state” and “undermining national security.”