Journalist Saba Azarpeik, who has been detained since May 28, 2014, appeared in court on July 21 and 22 and was reported to be in bad physical and psychological condition. Concerns for her safety are acute. PEN calls for her immediate and unconditional release, and demands the release of all writers currently detained in Iran solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

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Background Information

Saba Azarpeik, a leading independent journalist and political correspondent for the newspaper Etemaad and Other Reformist Publications, has been detained at an undisclosed location since May 28, 2014, possibly in a detention center in East Tehran. She was arrested during a raid on the office of the Tehran-based weekly Tejarat-e Farda, for which Azarpeik is a correspondent, but no formal charges against her have been made known.  Since her arrest, she has been allowed to contact her family on only one occasion.

On July 21 and 22, 2014, she appeared in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary court under Judge Moghiseh, and was said to be in poor physical and psychological condition, having lost a lot of weight. There are reports that she has needed treatment for severe back pain.

According to her lawyer, the hearing this week is related to a separate case in which she is not involved. She is still believed to be under interrogation and held without charge in her current case. By law, if the two cases contain similar charges, they should be merged.

MP Ali Motaheri, in an interview with Iran Wire, said that according to his inquiries, it appeared Azarpeik was being held by the Office of the Prosecutor of the Media and Culture Court.

Prior to her arrest, Azarpeik had reportedly written a series of articles accusing the hardline movement of trying to undermine the government of President Hassan Rouhani.  Azarpeik was particularly outspoken on her Facebook page, which has been taken offline since she was detained. She had also been very active in covering the case of Sattar Beheshti, a blogger whose death in custody at the hands of the cyber police in 2012 highlighted torture and detention conditions in Iran.

Azarpeik was previously arrested in January 2013 amid a wave of arrests of at least 20 reformist journalists between January and March 2013. She spent some weeks in Evin prison.

Well over 20 writers are currently detained in Iran for the peaceful expression of their opinions and recent weeks have seen several journalists and filmmakers arrested and/or imprisoned, including journalist Marzieh Rasouli, journalist Serajeddin Mirdamadi, filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi, 11 staff members of Pat Shargh Govashir (a company that owns the popular Iranian technology news website Narenji and its sister sites, Nardebaan and Negahbaan) blogger Mehdi Khazali, and journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing serious concern for the well being and safety of journalist Saba Azarpeik, who is held in an undisclosed location and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Urging that she be granted immediate access to her family and lawyer, and granted all necessary medical treatment;
  • Calling for her immediate and unconditional release, and that of all other writers currently similarly detained in Iran in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Send Your Letter To

Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street — End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran


Twitter: @khamenei_ir


Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

C/o Public Relations Office

Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran


President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Hassan Rouhani

Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran


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

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after 31 August 2014. ***