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Iranian journalist arrested at airport, placed in Evin Prison without details of charges

Jail cells (Dreamstime/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian journalist Nasim Soltanbeigi has been arrested at Tehran’s International Airport and transferred to Evin prison without being given details of the charges she faces.

Iran Jalali, Soltanbeigi’s mother, said in a tweet on January 12 that her daughter told her in a brief phone call that the security forces had transferred her to solitary confinement. She has no news about the charges or the reason for the arrest.

Soltanbeigi was a student activist in the 2000s and has been working as a journalist for various Iranian publications in recent years.

She has been arrested before for her activism. She was held for eight days in 2006 for attending a “Women for Change” rally before a court sentenced her to a suspended sentence of five years. She was placed on probation for two years and told that her sentence would be canceled if she did not violate the terms of her probation.

A year later, she was arrested again along with some leftist student activists and was sentenced to a total of six years in prison for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” She was finally released from prison in 2014.

The new arrest comes amid monthslong nationwide protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — unrest marked by unprecedented shows of defiance by women and schoolgirls in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Amini, 22, died on September 16, just days after being detained by Tehran’s notorious morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict female dress code. Authorities have blamed “underlying diseases” for the cause of death, but supporters and family members say Amini was beaten while in custody.

According to the Tehran Journalists Association, at least 70 Iranian journalists have been arrested since the beginning of the protests.

In a statement published on January 11, the association said that a number of arrested journalists have been released on bail, while 30 journalists are still in prison.

The protests have seen more than 500 people killed and thousands detained, according to human rights groups. Despite government warnings that the crackdown will intensify, Iranians continue to take to the streets.

Several thousand others have been arrested since Amini’s death, including many protesters, lawyers, activists, and digital-rights defenders.