An revolutionary tribunal in Tehran has condemned three journalists to prison on charges of spreading propaganda against the ruling system, conspiracy and insulting authorities.
The journalists, Afarin Chitsaz, Ehsan Mazandarani and Saman Safarzaee were sentenced to 10, seven and five years in prison, respectively.
Arrested in November 2015, the three have remained jailed along with a fourth man, Davoud Asadi, who has been alternatively described as a journalist and non-journalist.
Charged with propaganda against the ruling authorities and conspiracy, often charges leveled against newspaper correspondents for whom the Tehran regime targets for political reasons, the three have been in the employ of periodicals which are often described as sympathetic to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Rouhani is often at odds with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Their arrest in November 2015 coincided with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warnings Western influence was threatening the stability and security of Iran.
A fourth journalist, Issa Saharkhiz, who previously served as a press official with the Tehran regime, has remained in jail since his arrest along with Chitsaz, Mazandarani and Safarzaee in November. His fate remains a mystery.
Iran’s sentencing of the journalists co-exists with the release of a cartoonist, Hadi Heidari, who was re-arrested in 2015 and ordered to serve the balance of a 2013 sentence for a cartoon in response to the Paris terror attacks.
Heidari was released on Tuesday.
Concurring with Heidari’s release, activist Atena Farghadani, jailed for anti-state artwork, has had her sentence commuted to 18 months.
58 journalists toil in Iranian jails; a further nine await trial and 41 persist in exile.
[The Guardian] [Photo courtesy BBC]