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Iran journalist sentenced for publishing interview criticising government policy

June 5, 2020 at 4:38 pm

The chief of Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) has reportedly been convicted after publishing an interview with a former Iranian diplomat who criticised Tehran’s “arbitrary” intelligence operations in Europe.

According to the Iranian judiciary’s own news agency, Mizan, Ali Motaghian faced a sentence ranging from two months to two years in prison, as well as 74 lashes and a fine.

Journalism watchdog group, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said today the case originates from a complaint filed by the intelligence arm of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

It involved an extensive interview ISNA published in January 2019 with former Ambassador to Germany, Ali Majedi, during which he condemned some operations by Iran’s intelligence apparatus in Europe.

“We are facing an issue inside the country, such as arbitrary operations,” ISNA quoted Majedi as saying. “Can we deny that there are no examples of this happening outside the country? Such operations damage the trust.”

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The comments came after Germany arrested Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Austria, who prosecutors said belonged to the country’s Intelligence Ministry and was involved in a plot to bomb an annual rally of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group (MEK) in neighboring France.

The reporter who wrote the story and Majedi were found not guilty by Tehran’s Media Court in a hearing in May, said the CPJ.