Iran’s judiciary issued a statement on Monday claiming Yeganeh Salehi, the reporter for The National newspaper arrested last month, is being detained for “security issues”.
Yeganeh Salehi, a foreign correspondent at the Abu Dhabi government-owned newspaper, was arrested by Iranian authorities on July 22, along with her husband Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American and Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post.
The couple were part of a group of three journalists arrested by Iranian authorities, but it is not known why they were arrested or their current whereabouts.
A statement from judiciary spokesperson Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi said the case against the three reporters was still in the “initial stages of investigation.”
“The reason behind their detention is not financial but security issues… In line with the law I cannot reveal the details of the case or the charges facing the accused,” Ejehi added.
During a raid on the couple’s home, security forces “ransacked their house and confiscated their personal items, including computers, books, and notes,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based human rights organisation, told Reuters.
“We are very worried about them… haven’t heard from them in eight days,” Fatemeh Talaee, Salehi’s mother was quoted as saying. “We have the right to know where they are and why they were detained,” she said, speaking by phone from Tehran.
In a video message posted on the Washington Post’s website, Mary Rezaian, Rezaian’s mother, said there was no indication her son was in any danger when they last spoke two days ago, but expressed worry that her son, who suffers from high blood pressure, does not have access to his regular medication.
Earlier this month, The National’s editor-in-chief, Mohammed Al Otaiba, called for Salehi’s release in a front page article.
“Yeganeh is a highly valued foreign correspondent of ours. Her reports from Iran — which at times have been facilitated by the Iranian government — have provided notable insights into the country, helping explain Iran to its neighbours in the Gulf,” Al Otaiba said.
“We don’t believe they could in any way be construed as anti-Iranian, nor have they dealt with sensitive security matters. We sincerely hope that Yeganeh is being well-treated and that she is released soon. We want her back doing what she does so well: reporting on a country that she loves.”
The United States has called for their release and a senior US official said Washington was using “all appropriate channels” to make its concerns known to Iran.
“There is absolutely no reason for this to occur,” Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In its most recent online post, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said several Iranian reporters, who requested anonymity, it the couple’s arrest has astonished their journalist colleagues.
“There is no doubt that these two have not committed any crimes. If there had been a crime, they would have announced it during that first week and they would have been put on trial. When ‘investigations’ take three weeks, it means that other goals are pursued through the arrests,” an unnamed reporter told the organisation.
Arabian Business understands that UAE officials have been in contact with their Iranian counterparts concerning the matter.