Whistle-blower Vahid Ashtari

Another Iranian Whistleblower Arrested Ahead of Presidential Election

Thursday, 06/20/2024

Security forces have arrested Vahid Ashtari, a social media activist and whistle-blower, to serve his jail term, shortly after he released documents against Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Qalibaf.

The announcement was made Thursday evening in a tweet by Mehdi Keshtdar, managing editor of the judiciary’s news agency (Mizan).

In a video clip tweeted a few hours before his arrest, Ashtari said he had not received any official summons to serve the sentence. Ashtari said in the video that he was in Qazvin but had been informed by colleagues and friends that security forces were looking for him to arrest him.

Ashtari is well known for his revelations of corruption against presidential candidate Qalibaf and his family and other officials.

The whistle-blower is a member of Edalat Khahan (Justice Seekers), a political group of mainly university students loyal to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and close to former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili who is also running for presidency in the June 28 snap elections.

In April 2022, Ashtari’s revelations sparked the Layette-gate scandal that led to calls for Qalibaf’s resignation and resurfacing of other alleged corruption cases against his family.

Ashtari made his latest revelation about the case on Wednesday by releasing a document that proved Qalibaf’s daughter lied about the matter in an election-related interview with the state television Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the judiciary also arrested journalists and whistle-blowers Saba Azarpeik and Yashar Soltani, also known for their revelations against Qalibaf, to serve sentences not yet executed.

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