Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Iran prosecutor known for mass arrest of journalists accused of $565,000 bribe

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During a corruption trial in Iran on Sunday a prosecutor known for the mass arrest of journalists in 2013 was named as the recipient of 500,000 euros in bribes from the defendant.

Gholamreza Mansouri issued arrest warrants for 20 journalists in a single day on February 8, 2013. On his orders, security forces raided offices of various newspapers to arrest the accused including at least two chief editors.

According to the representative of the prosecutor during the trial on Sunday, Mansouri has fled the country. His whereabouts are unknown.

Several journalists have named him as the person responsible for their unjust arrests since his name came up during the trial.

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In a tweet on Sunday Akbar Montabi, a reformist journalist said he is free now but still on bail for the charges brought against him by Mansouri in 2013.

Pouria Alami, satirist and journalist, in a tweet said Mansouri had put him in solitary confinement on charges of “collaboration with MI6”. “Collaboration with the enemy” is one of the usual charges brought against journalists and activists by the Iranian security forces.

Reyhaneh Tabatabai, a reporter for the reformist Sharq newspaper at the time, has also named him as the prosecutor who ordered her arrest in 2013.

Behnam Gholipour, a journalist now living outside Iran, in a tweet has called for appealing to international courts to put Mansouri on trial for gross violations of human rights.

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Another prosecutor named Bizhan Qassemzadeh who is well-known for ordering the ban on Telegram messaging and suppression of several journalists has also been named as a defendant in the highly sensational and controversial corruption case.

The main defendant in the trial, Akbar Tabari, is a former executive deputy of the Judiciary who served as the right hand of former Chief Justice Sadeq Amoli-Larijani. Tabari is on trial for paying and receiving large bribes over a period of twenty years. In a rare move, the state-run television broadcast the first session of Tabari’s trial live.

Tabari was arrested on July 16, 2019. Chief Justice Amoli-Larijani who was later appointed as the Chairman of the Expediency Council highly protested Tabari’s arrest and reportedly even threatened Khamenei to leave the country in protest.

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