CPJ urges Iran to release imprisoned journalist who spoke to BBC

Hassan Fathi started 18-month prison term on May 6

A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday called on Iranian authorities to release the journalist Hassan Fathi from prison and cease arbitrarily jailing members of the press.
Fathi started his 18-month prison term in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison on May 6. He lost an appeal for a 2018 conviction for speaking with the BBC’s Persian service.
Iran’s opaque judiciary system slapped the prison term on Fathi, a freelance columnist and former editor of the Iranian daily Ettelaat, in violation of media freedoms, said CPJ.
“Iranian authorities must stop their absurd practice of imprisoning journalists solely for speaking to foreign media outlets, especially during a pandemic, when any jail term could be a potential death sentence,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Hassan Fathi should be released immediately and the charges against him should be dropped.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the worst violators of press freedoms in the world. According to a 2020 Reporters Without Borders report, Iran's media freedom rank is 173 out of the 180 countries.
Iranian authorities arrested Fathi on May 26, 2018, after he gave an interview with the BBC’s Persian service about the re-election of president Hassan Rouhani.
The Revolutionary Court of Tehran charged Fathi with “spreading lies and disrupting public opinion.” He was released on bail on June 2, 2018.
CPJ said it “could not determine exactly when Fathi was originally convicted or sentenced.”
According to CPJ, “Authorities previously detained Fathi after he was interviewed by the BBC in 2011… He was held for 85 days and then released without charge, he told Iran International, saying that authorities’ allegations concerning the 2018 interview contained much of the same information from the 2011 case.”