Washington, DC, February 24, 2022 — Iranian authorities should immediately release blogger Seyed Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On Wednesday, February 23, the Tehran home of Ronaghi Maleki, an independent blogger and free speech activist who posts critical of the government on social media, was raided by unidentified security forces who took him to an unknown location, according to dispatches. and sources familiar with the matter who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Stocks follow a Twitter Tuesday wire by Ronaghi Maleki, posted in both Farsi and Englishwho condemned the passage of the “user protection bill”, a controversial law that restricts Iranians’ access to the internet and was ratified by parliament earlier in the day.
Authorities have not officially accepted any responsibility for Ronaghi Maleki’s arrest, no charges have been officially announced, and CPJ has not been able to confirm where the blogger is being held, the reason for his arrest, or what branch of the security forces arrested him.
“With the arrest of Seyed Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, the Iranian government appears to continue its absurd practice of arbitrary detention of journalists without charge,” CPJ program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said in New York. “Authorities must release Ronaghi Maleki immediately or at least reveal his whereabouts and any charges against him and allow all Iranians free access to the internet.
On February 23 at 11 a.m., Ronaghi Maleki called his parents to tell them he was going to work, according to Reza Ronaghi, the blogger’s father, who spoke to the US Congress-funded Radio Farda, adding that his son had received several threatening calls in recent weeks and told his family that he could be arrested again soon.
When Ronaghi Maleki’s family could not get in touch with him, they went to his apartment later that evening where they found the house ransacked and found that his computer, laptop, hard drives and several notebooks were missing, according to Hassan Ronaghi, the blogger’s brother, who spoke to CPJ by phone.
“Hossein’s life is in danger as he suffers from several health issues, including kidney, lung, blood and digestive problems, and we don’t know if the kidnappers will give him his medicine,” Hassan Ronaghi said, adding that the The blogger’s family had asked the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence about Ronaghi Maleki’s arrest and status, but they have yet to receive a response.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York seeking comment on Ronaghi Maleki’s arrest, but did not receive a response. Ronaghi Maleki, also known as Babak Khoramddin, was previously arrested on December 13, 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison after discussing politics in a series of critical blogs that were eventually blocked by the government, research shows. from CPJ. He suffered from multiple health issues, undergoing multiple kidney surgeries, which ultimately led to his unconditional release in 2019.