Two Iranian journalists arrested in Tehran in August 2017 remain detained without formal charges, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
The authorities should immediately release them or charge them with recognizable criminal offenses and ensure them fair trials.
Authorities from the Judiciary Intelligence Agency arrested Sasan Aghaei, 34, deputy editor of the reformist daily Etemad, at his office in Tehran on August 13. On August 22, authorities also arrested Yaghma Fashkhami, a journalist for the Didban Iran website, at his office in Tehran.
Both had been arbitrarily detained previously, in violation of their rights to freedom of speech.
“Iran’s judiciary and intelligence agencies have a longstanding pattern of prosecuting journalists on dubious national security charges,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The latest journalists to be arrested have not been accused of doing anything beyond exercising their right to free speech, and should be freed immediately.”
Since his arrest – the fourth time since 2009 – Aghaei has been held in solitary confinement in ward 241 of Evin prison in Tehran, which is under the supervision of the Judiciary Intelligence Agency.
A source close to the Aghaei family, who wished to remain anonymous, told Human Rights Watch that “authorities are pressuring Aghaei to confess to having ties with the Amad News website,” which Iranian authorities consider an opposition outlet. “They could have simply summoned him instead of showing up to arrest him as a criminal,” the source said.
Indefinite solitary confinement is cruel and inhuman treatment and can amount to torture, Human Rights Watch said.