Reporters Without Boarders says Iran is “the biggest prison for women journalists” with five female journalists serving jail terms between one and 12 years.

Afarin Chitsaz

Afarin Chitsaz

In a statement issued on March 16, 2016, the press rights group especially highlights the situation of Afarin Chitsaz, a reporter for the Iran daily who was arrested along with another three journalists last November by the Revolutionary Guards.

The statement expressed concern about Chitsaz being held without any official charges being brought against her and adds that she is reportedly being held in the Section 2A of Evin Prison under control of the IRGC, infamous for forcing self-incriminating confessions from detainees.

The statement adds that another four female journalists, namely Rihaneh Tabatabai, Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, Narges Mohammadi and Atena Ferghdani, are also serving prison sentences in Iran for charges related to their media activities.

Chitsaz was arrested at the same time as Issa Saharkhiz, Ehsan Mazandarani and Saman Safarzai in an operation carried out by the IRGC in reaction to the Iranian leader’s warnings against foreign infiltration of the country’s cultural and media sectors.

The other three journalists have been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “acting against national security”.

Reporters Without Borders says “with a total of 36 journalists and citizen-journalists currently detained, Iran is still one of the world’s five biggest prisons for media personnel”.