Several journalists from Iran's liberal-leaning Fardaye Eghtesad newspaper were arrested on Monday amid further state crackdowns on the media.
According to the few journalists who have since been released, their possessions such as mobile phones have been confiscated but details of the charges and the entity involved in the arrests have not been announced. Six people, including senior editors, are still being held in the building. Officials also conducted an extensive investigation at the office of Fardaye Eghtesad website.
Mizan, the official news agency of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic, issued a statement Tuesday, explaining that their investigations show that the security raid to the office of the newspaper and the arrest of an economic journalist had no connection to journalistic or media activities. The judiciary said that the case is being followed by another security authority in the country, which is mainly theintelligence apparatus in such cases.
Etemad Online reported on Tuesday that journalist Mehdi Afsharnik, whose arrest was also announced Monday, was detained on Wednesday, January 31, while the reason and the entity behind his detention are still not clear.
Criticism has emerged regarding the lack of transparency from official authorities, with no clear explanation provided for nearly 20 hours following the incident. Some journalists have described the action as tantamount to “hostage-taking.”
In Iran, journalists have been under pressure for years and are detained, imprisoned, and banned from work under various pretexts.
Last year's Freedom House report on global freedoms ranked Iran 12th in the 100 least free countries in the world.
In the 12 months following the Women, Life, Freedom uprising of 22, at least 79 journalists had been arrested, with the trend continuing, according to rights group Reporters Without Borders.