Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Amnesty International

Journalist Held Incommunicado: Saba Azarpeik

Amnesty International
‍Amnesty International
July 28, 2014
Appeal/Urgent Action

Iranian journalist Saba Azarpeik has been detained in solitary confinement without access to her lawyer and family since 28 May. Her whereabouts are unknown, sparking fears that she may be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. She is a prisoner of conscience.

Saba Azarpeik, a journalist for two reformist publications, daily newspaper Etemaad and weekly magazine Tejarat-e-Farda, was arrested on 28 May and taken to an undisclosed location. Amnesty International understands that she was not informed of the reasons for her arrest. Her family were told nothing until 2 June when a Ministry of Intelligence official phoned to say that she was “well”. She is believed to be in solitary confinement and barred from access to her lawyer and family. She has been allowed to phone her family only once, on 6 July, almost 40 days after she was arrested. The authorities have apparently warned her family against speaking to the media if they wish her to be released early.

Saba Azarpeik was brought before Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 21 and 22 July apparently to face the charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “spreading lies”, in relation to her previous arrest in January 2013. Her lawyer was not present during these hearings. It is understood that Saba Azarpeik now faces the charge of “spreading propaganda against the system” in relation to her recent arrest. Amnesty International believes she is a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for her peaceful journalistic activities.

Saba Azarpeik has been arrested several times, including in 2013 when security officials stormed the offices of several Tehran-based publications on 27 January 2013, arresting 10 journalists in five simultaneous raids on the same day.

Please write immediately in Persian, English, Arabic, or your own language:

Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Saba Azarpeik immediately and unconditionally, as she has been held solely for her peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression;

Urging them to reveal where she is detained and allow her regular visits from her family and her lawyer;

Calling on them to ensure that she is protected from torture and other ill-treatment and is granted any medical attention she may require.




Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street- End of Shahid KeshvarDoust Street,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Email: [email protected]

Salutation: Your Excellency


Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

c/o Public Relations Office

Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

(Subject line: FAO

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani)

Salutation: Your Excellency


And copies to:

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Hassan Rouhani

The Presidency

Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation


Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.





Following Saba Azarpeik’s arrest in May 2014, the authorities refused to tell her family why she was arrested, where she was held and what security agency arrested her, despite their repeated requests. Saba Azarpeik’s mother wrote on her Facebook page on 20 June, “Saba has been in solitary confinement for 24 days now, without us knowing where she is, why, or who is responsible for her arrest”. In a media interview in June 2014, Tehran member of parliament Ali Motahari said that the arrest had apparently been carried out by the special Prosecutor’s Office for Media and Culture. The state-sanctioned news agency Jahan News claimed on 17 June that she had been arrested because of her alleged ties with foreign-based media and journalists. Another state-sanctioned media outlet listed “enmity with the judiciary” and “spreading false news about Section 350 of Evin Prison” among reasons for her arrest.

On 12 July, media reports indicated that she had been taken to the prison clinic due to back pain. Saba Azarpeik’s temporary detention order, which had previously been extended for a further month on 27 June 2014, ended on 26 July.

Saba Azarpeik had previously been arrested on 27 January 2013 during a large clampdown on journalists, as a result of which a total of at least 16 journalists were arrested during January, apparently solely for their journalistic activities. She was released on bail five weeks later. Following these arrests, the Ministry of Intelligence announced that the Ministry, under its legal obligation to combat any “foreign intervention”, had identified one of the “largest media networks” connected to the BBC, which it accused of working for foreign intelligences services. The statement said that while some of the detainees could be released if found innocent, more arrests would be made in the next few days. In two further statements, on 5 and 19 February, the Ministry said that some of the detainees had been released on bail and a number of others had been summoned for interrogation.

Saba Azarpeik had reportedly been detained for a couple of hours in May 2009, in advance of the presidential election, after she wrote an article detailing her treatment by “the Guidance Patrol”, a special police patrol mandated to ensure that women adhere to the strict state-imposed dress code. In her article, she alleged that she had been physically assaulted in the street by the police officers who deemed her clothing inappropriate. Saba Azarpeik had also widely covered the case of blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died in Cyber Police custody in November 2012, allegedly as a result of torture.

Under Article 48 of Iran’s amended Code of Criminal Procedures, which became law in April 2014, “an accused [person] can request the presence of a lawyer at the onset of detention”. However, according to the note to the Article, if the accused has been detained on the suspicion of commission of certain offences including any of the organized crimes, crimes against national security, theft, and drug-related offences, he or she will not be allowed to access a lawyer until up to a week after the arrest.

Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party, the authorities must ensure that any person arrested is informed of the reason at the time of their arrest, promptly informed of any charges, brought before a judge and tried, according to international standards, within a reasonable time or released. Detainees should be able to promptly access legal counsel, be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention and entitled to compensation if they are unlawfully held. International standards on fair trial require that a person arrested, detained, or facing criminal charges should have access to legal counsel at all stages of criminal proceedings including during the course of initial interrogations.

Name: Saba Azarpeik

Gender m/f: f



UA: 189/14 Index: MDE 13/043/2014 Issue Date: 28 July 2014