Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 3, 2020: In recent weeks and months, officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have intensified the harassment of families in Iran in order to increase the pressure on Iranian journalists living in exile.

Iran Human Rights has obtained documents that security forces of the Islamic Republic, through pressuring the family of Masih Alinejad, a journalist and human rights activist living in the United States, attempted to facilitate her kidnapping in Turkey. In recent days, Masih Alinejad and several other activists and journalists have also been threatened with kidnapping on social media.

Condemning the threats and citing previous threats by Iran’s security officials to abduct Iran International journalists from Britain, and pressure on the families of BBC Persian, Radio Farda, Manoto, Kayhan London and other Persian-language media outlets abroad, IHR calls on the international community to take appropriate action to stop all such threats.

IHR Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “The threat of kidnapping and execution on social media is a criminal act, and the perpetrators of these threats must be prosecuted. Threats to activists’ families, unauthorized arrests, and death sentences have become commonplace in the Islamic Republic. Nevertheless, Social media administrators and users should not allow cyberspace to become a safe haven for threats and repression of civil society activists and journalists.”

On 1st August, news spread about the abduction of Jamshid Sharmahd, an opponent of the Islamic Republic. According to his family, he was abducted by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United Arab Emirates, while he was en route to India.

Simultaneously, a new campaign of intimidation and harassment by individuals close to the Islamic Republic government against journalists and activists abroad began. During the campaign, some figures close to the government threatened to kidnap Iranian activists in exile on social media.

One of those heavily targeted on social media by real and pseudo-accounts close to the Islamic Republic was Masih Alinejad, who was threatened with kidnapping and deportation to Iran.

Islamic Republic officials had previously pressured the family of Masih Alinejad to bring her to Turkey in preparation for her abduction. According to Masih Alinejad, her brother Ali Alinejad was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for disclosing the plot to her.

In late 2019, Ruhollah Zam, the director of the Amad News Telegram channel, who had refugee status in France, was arrested in Iraq and deported to Iran.

These actions were not met with an adequate response from the international community.
Not responding appropriately is an encouragement for Iran’s government to continue to carry out acts such as kidnapping dissidents from other countries.

Iran Human Rights strongly condemns the repression of freedom of expression inside the country and its extension to activists outside Iran and calls for the intervention of trade unions, human rights organisations and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran to save the lives of Iranian journalists and human rights defenders.

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