On the night of 19 February, the Majzooban Noor journalists were arrested in the north Tehran district of Pasdaran during clashes between police and members of the Sufi community. Many of them sustained head injuries when they were beaten by police and civilian militiamen.

Saleholldin Moradi and Reza Entesari, members of the website’s editorial committee, as well as Entesari’s brother, Sina, a citizen-journalist who wrote for the site, were sentenced to seven years in prison.

Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, another citizen-journalist who reported for the site, and another member of its editorial committee, Kasra Nouri, were given 12-year terms.

Mostafa Abdi, the fourth member of the editorial staff, received the longest jail sentence – 26 years in prison.

These six people were also sentenced to 74 lashes each. Upon completing their jail terms, they are additionally sentenced to two years of internal exile, and a simultaneous two-year ban on all civil society and journalistic activity.

The six refused to attend any of the hearings on the grounds that they had no legal representation and the trial was unfair, and the sentences were therefore passed in absentia.

Three of Majzooban Noor’s female citizen-journalists, Sepideh Moradi, Avisha Jalaledin and Shima Entesari, were also sentenced by a separate Tehran revolutionary court to five years in prison, on July 10th. They were charged with “meeting and plotting against national security.”

Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk said, “Rather than judicial decisions, these sentences are examples of how the Iranian judicial authorities persecute independently reported news and information.” Moini added, “The Iranian regime has been cracking down harder on independent news providers ever since a wave of street protests began in January. We call on Javaid Rehman, the UN’s new special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, to take action on behalf of journalists who have been arrested arbitrarily and given unfair trials. The regime must adhere to its obligations to respect international standards.”

Majzooban Noor is a website that is the only independent source of news and information about the Sufi religious community of Gonabadi dervishes in Iran.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Paris, France, that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press.

Iran is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.