Two Iranian journalists, Shiva Nazar Ahari and Jila Bani Yaghoob, have been arrested in order to serve previously imposed jail sentences. Their detention brings to five the number of women journalists in jail in Iran.
Ahari, 27, a human rights activist and editor of the Azad Zan (Freed Women) website, is serving a four-year sentence for plotting against national security and transmitting anti-government propaganda. She was also sentenced to 74 lashes.
Yaghoob, who has been a journalist since 1994, wrote for many reformist newspapers (now closed) about Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. Her “We are journalists” blog was awarded a press freedom prize in the 2010, and the year before she won the International Women’s Media Foundation’s courage-in-journalism award.
She was arrested in June 2009 along with her husband, fellow journalist Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee. Yaghoob was released on bail two months later, but her husband was given a five-year jail sentence for articles critical of the Ahmadinejad administration.
In October 2010, she received a one-year jail sentence and was banned from working as a journalist for 30 years.
Yaghoob and Amoee are not the only journalist couple to be in an Iranian prison at the same time. Mahssa Amrabadi has been serving a two-year jail sentence since May while her husband Masoud Bastani, who worked for the daily Farhikhteghan, is serving a six-year sentence.
Bastani was given temporary permission to leave prison yesterday to receive medical treatment. He has requested permission to visit his wife in her prison.
Yaghoob and Amrabadi, are being held in Evin prison while their husbands are serving their sentences in Rajaishahr prison, regarded as one of Iran’s harshest jails because of its many reported cases of torture, rape and murder.