Pakistan Press Foundation is concerned over the arrest of journalists Sadra Mohaqeq and Yashar Soltani in Iran

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Prime minister of Iran expressed concern over the arrest of two Iranian journalists, Sadra Mohaqeq and Yashar Soltani.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged Iranian government to immediately release both journalists and ensure that media exercises freedom of expression.

According to Committee to Protect Journalists, Soltani, the editor of the architecture and urban development news website Memari News, was detained by security forces after he reported alleged corruption in Tehran’s municipal government.

Iranian intelligence forces arrested Mohaqeq, editor of the reformist newspaper Shargh Daily from his home in Tehran on September 19. Mehr News Agency portrayed Mohaqeq as a collaborator for anti-revolutionary media outlets outside Iran and reported them about internal affairs. Although it was not apparent these allegations referred to formal criminal charges.

Tehran’s Second Press Court on September 17 jailed Soltani after he turned unable to post bail of two billion rials (roughly $63,700) which did not specify the charges.

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran’s mayor, and Mehdi Chamran, the chairman of Tehran’s Municipal Council, filed a criminal complaint against Memari News. The complaint was based on a report of August 23 about alleged corruption in land deals, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported on August 30 without specifying the substance of the complaint. ILNA reported that Iranian authorities contacted the website’s hosting company, Shuttel, and ordered it to be censored immediately.

Soltani stated that Memari News’s report was based on public information and the website had not violated any law in publishing it.