Security authorities in Iran have arrested a prominent reformist journalist, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reports. Morad Saghafi, the editor-in-chief of Goftegoo magazine was reportedly arrested on March 15. According to CHRI, Saghafi is the owner of Shirzeh publishing house in Iran and is the executive director of a non-government organization that works to “elevate the people’s ability to enjoy their rights as citizens and improve their lives.” While the charges against Saghafi are not known yet, the reformist activist had recently criticized government corruption. “Improvements in Tehran’s situation is possible by stopping widespread corruption inside the municipality…The city needs members who are champions in the fight against corruption,” he said at a seminar on March 9. “Power is in the hands of just one man and that’s the mayor (of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf), who’s out of control,” he added.
Comment: Saghafi’s arrest is the latest in a new surge of regime crackdown on reformist activists and journalists in the run-up to the country’s May presidential elections. According to reports in the Iranian media, agents of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) and Intelligence Ministry have arrested scores of social media activists who have been critical of the dismal human rights situation in the country and restrictions on their political activism.
Saghafi’s detention may also be related to his criticism of Tehran Mayor Ghalibaf, who is an influential conservative politician and is considering challenging incumbent President Hassan Rouhani in the upcoming elections. The Tehran mayor has previously served as Iran’s chief of police and the commander of the I.R.G.C.’s Air Force.