Iranian MP Ali Motahari says the recent arrests of journalists by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are “against the law”.
In an interview with the Iran daily on Tuesday November 17, Motahari said detaining journalists is not on the “list of legal duties of the Revolutionary Guards”.
Afarin Chitsaz, Issa Saharkhiz, Ehsan Mazandarani and Saman Safarzai are the journalists who were arrested earlier this month by the Revolutionary Guards. Yesterday, Hadi Heidari, another journalist, was arrested. It is not clear yet whether he was arrested to serve out an earlier suspended sentence or if new charges are involved.
Motahari said the IRGC may at most get involved in issues concerning armed opposition groups, but arresting journalists is not in the scope of their duties.
He added that the judiciary and prosecutor’s office have failed in their duties in this regard and he praised President Hassan Rohani for calling out the judiciary.
Rohani said last week: “We should not be going arbitrarily arresting one or two people from here and there and then fabricating charges and blowing it up to say this is the line of enemy infiltration.”
The head of Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Larijani, slammed the president for these statements, saying his accusations bordered on “slander and insults”.
A number of MPs are trying to collect signatures in Parliament to issue a warning to the president about his statements.
The IRGC has alleged that the detained journalists are linked to a network of “enemy infiltrators”.
Motahari said “elements of infiltration” are more likely to be present in those places that “overtly pretend to be regime supporters”, and that it’s highly unlike that infiltrators are among “those who openly state their criticisms”.
Iran’s Supreme Leader has aired his concerns regarding “infiltration by the enemy” in various strata of the country, especially since the nuclear agreement was forged and relations with the West seemed to be be moving toward a level of normalization. His warnings have been seen as a green light to hardliners to crack down on moderate factions