Iran: Journalist held in unknown location; fears for safety

Journalist Saba Azarpeik, who has been held since 28 May 2014, appeared in court on 21 and 22 July and was reported to be in a bad physical and psychological condition. Concerns for her safety are acute. PEN International is calling for her immediate and unconditional release, and that of all writers currently detained in Iran solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Saba Azarpeik. Quelle: PEN International

Saba Azarpeik. Quelle: PEN International

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Please send appeals:

  • Expressing serious concern for the wellbeing and safety of journalist Saba Azarpeik, who is held in an undisclosed location and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Urging that she be granted immediate access to her family and lawyer, and to be granted all necessary medical treatment;
  • Calling for her immediate and unconditional release, and that of all other writers currently similarly detained in Iran in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Appeals to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street — End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader [at] leader [dot] ir
Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
C/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media [at] rouhani [dot] ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.


Saba Azarpeik, a leading independent journalist and political correspondent for the newspaper Etemaad and other reformist publications, has been detained at an undisclosed location since 28 May 2014, possibly in a detention centre in East Tehran. She was arrested during a raid on the office of the Tehran-based weekly Tejarat-e Farda, for which Azarpeik is a correspondent, but no formal charges against her have been made known.  Since her arrest, she has been allowed to contact her family on only one occasion.

On 21 and 22 July 2014 she appeared in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary court under Judge Moghiseh, and was said to be in a poor physical and psychological condition, having lost a lot of weight. There are reports that she has needed treatment for severe back pain.

According to her lawyer, the hearing this week is related to a separate case which he is not involved with. She is still believed to be under interrogation and held without charge in her current case. By law, if the two cases contain similar charges, they should be merged.

MP Ali Motaheri, in an interview with Iran Wire, said that according to his enquiries, it appeared Azarpeik was being held by the Office of the Prosecutor of the Media and Culture Court.

Prior to her arrest, Azarpeik had reportedly written a series of articles accusing the hardline movement of trying to undermine the government of President Hassan Rouhani. Azarpeik was particularly outspoken on her Facebook page, which has been taken offline since she was detained. She had also been very active in covering the case of Sattar Beheshti, a blogger whose death in custody at the hands of the cyber police in 2012 highlighted torture and detention conditions in Iran.

Azarpeik was previously arrested in January 2013 amid a wave of arrests of at least 20 reformist journalists between January and March 2013. She spent some weeks in Evin prison.

Well over 20 writers are currently detained in Iran for the peaceful expression of their opinions and recent weeks have seen several journalists and filmmakers arrested and/or imprisoned, including journalist Marzieh Rasouli, journalist Serajeddin Mirdamadi, filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi,11 staff members of Pat Shargh Govashir, a company that owns the popular Iranian technology news website Narenji and its sister sites, Nardebaan and Negahbaan, blogger Mehdi Khazali and journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei.

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