Two Iranian journalists arrested in Tehran in August 2017 remain detained without formal charges, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately release them or charge them with recognizable criminal offenses and ensure them fair trials.

Authorities from the Judiciary Intelligence Agency arrested Sasan Aghaei, 34, deputy editor of the reformist daily Etemad, at his office in Tehran on August 13. On August 22, authorities also arrested Yaghma Fashkhami, a journalist for the Didban Iran website, at his office in Tehran. Both had been arbitrarily detained previously, in violation of their rights to freedom of speech.

“Iran’s judiciary and intelligence agencies have a longstanding pattern of prosecuting journalists on dubious national security charges,” saidSarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The latest journalists to be arrested have not been accused of doing anything beyond exercising their right to free speech, and should be freed immediately.”

According to Reporters without Borders, in its 2017 Press freedom Index, Iran continues to be one of the world’s five biggest prisons for journalists, with 28 people detained as of late August.

“Iran’s various intelligence agencies seem to agree on at least one thing: their repressive approach towards journalists and press freedom,” Whitson said.

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