Friday, October 15, 2021

The impact of Revolutionary Guard’s suppression of citizen journalists

Citizen Journalists with dual citizenship were arrested and sentenced to jail because of postings on Facebook and other social networks .

On June8, the spokesman of the judiciary system, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi, announced:”several individuals who regularly continued illegal social network activities as actions against national security, have been identified and arrested by the security forces.” It means that the army media security team, known as Cyber Army, is still active and has captured its victims.
According to the news, Mahmud Mousavifar and Shayan Akbar Pour, who ran the Rahian Facebook page and a blog called Rahi, are the latest names to be revealed of bloggers who have been arrested. The Revolutionary Guard Authorities arrested them at their Tehran home on May 31, and despite their family follow-ups, they still do not know why they were arrested and where they are being held.
Citizen Journalist, or CitizenBlogger, is the title referring to a set of political and civil society activists. In the absence of political parties and independent media, individually and without depending on any specific party, they publish news, photos, films and reports in public networkson different issues. In many cases, before the official news sources, they would publish their reports and would inform the people about events in many parts of the country. They report on events that national newspapers and news agencies might be prohibited to release due to various extreme security and intelligence matters.
The government security and intelligence sector, which are directly and also indirectly controlled by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic during the 2000 decade, by his order, established a cyber-branch in the Revolutionary Guard to control Iraniancomputer and media expertusers in cyberspace. The commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari says,”neutralizing the threat from soft war issues is one of the Revolutionary Guard’s responsibilities.” The leader of the Islamic Republic has also mentioned the start of soft war by enemies against the government several times in his speech. According to the published reports, more than one hundred individual reporters have been arrested so far,since Hassan Rohani’s Presidency. Unfortunately, after prolonged interrogations, according to the demandsplaced on the detaining organization, these reporters have been sentenced to heavy prison terms in dramatic trials. The highest number of such detentions has been done by the Revolutionary Guard intelligence.
Indeed, the Revolutionary Guard crackdown against media activities is the continued crackdown on the protesters against the disputed presidential coupelection in 2009. Following the privatization of the management of communication in Iran, the Revolutionary Guard won the ownership of Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), the main telecommunication company and the largest Internet service provider, in a controversial suspended auction. In addition, three major mobile operators in Iran are indirectly held and propertied by the Revolutionary Guard and its shareholders. About 300 journalists and internet activists have been arrested arbitrarily, tortured and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment so far,since 2009. The majority of them have been sentenced to execution as they did not have the opportunity for having a lawyer to carry out the procedural formalities in court.
The writers and the technical staff of the website Narenji(which means ‘orange’ in Persian) were among the first victims of the Revolutionary Guard offensive since 2009. They were arrested on December 3, 2013 by the Revolutionary Guard. Ali AsgharHonarmand, Abbas Vahedi, Ehsan Paknejad, and Hossein Nozari were given sentences ranging from two to eleven years in prison.
The members of the Narenji website were all subjected to months of solitary confinement for confessionsto be extracted from them. Thesewere mainly acts of self-accusation that were used as evidence against them on collaboration with foreign and enemy media.
Recently, two of these Citizen Journalists with dual citizenship were arrested and sentenced to jail because of postings on Facebook and other social networks. FaridehShahgoli(with German citizenship) and Roya SaberinejadNobakht(with British citizenship) were sentenced to three and five years in jail, respectively.

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According to Saham news, Roya SaberinejadNobakht and several Citizen Journalists such as Amir Golestani, MasoudGhasemkhani, FariborzKardarfar, SeyyedMasoudSeyyedTalebi, Amin Akramipour, Mehdi Reyshahri and NaghmeShahiSavandiShirazi were arrested. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested these CitizenBloggers from late August 2013 until December of that year and imprisoned them in a solitary confinement section in Evin prison called Do Alef(2A) section, under extreme pressure to confess. On May 27,2014, the Tehran Revolutionary court, Branch 28, sentenced the bloggers to very heavy sentences. Last year,the Appeals Court adjusted some of these sentences.
The current president of Iran promised in his election campaign to “release political prisoners” and to “allow freedom of expression and press” several times. Indeed Dr Hassan Rohani won extensive youth and female support with these promises. However, against his knowledge, the autocrats, who feel that their situation is precarious, try to arrest the virtual network of active citizens for any reason, in order to frustrate and disappoint the people.

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