August 3, 2021
Mohammad Mosaed, an Iranian journalist who fled Iran last year to escape a prison sentence, says he is in the United States.
Writing on Twitter, Mosaed said he arrived six months after crossing the border into Turkey during winter, which he said made his escape more difficult.
Mosaed said he was grateful to the U.S. administration for allowing him into the country.
He added that he aims to remain independent and will not become the employee of any government, including the United States’.
Mosaed vowed to continue to raise his voice like millions of Iranians whose voices have not been silenced “by batons and bullets, nor by money and filtering.”
Mosaed fled to Turkey in January by foot after being summoned by Iranian authorities to serve a nearly five-year prison sentence on charges of “colluding against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”
Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court had also banned Mosaed from conducting journalism activities and from using all communications devices for two years.
The Committee To Defend Journalists (CPJ) had described the ruling as a further attempt by Iranian authorities to try to “suppress the truth.”
A freelance economic journalist who had worked for several reformist publications, Mosaed was detained in late 2019 after posting a tweet critical of an Internet shutdown imposed by Tehran during the violent November 2019 antiestablishment protests sparked by a sudden rise in the price of gasoline.
“Knock knock! Hello Free World! I used 42 different [proxy sites] to write this! Millions of Iranians don’t have [I]nternet. Can you hear us?” Mosaed tweeted with the hashtag #Internet4Iran that Iranians had been using to protest the Internet blackout. His tweet went viral and days later he was detained for two weeks.
Mosaed was again detained for several hours a few months later by the feared intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for criticizing the establishment on social media, including the country’s slow response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
While in custody, Intelligence agents ordered Mosaed to delete his Telegram channel and suspended his Twitter account, the CPJ reported.
The CPJ awarded Mosaed its 2020 International Press Freedom Award for his courage covering corruption, demonstrations, and the Iranian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scores of Iranian journalists have in past years been summoned, harassed, threatened, and sentenced to prison.
Many have been forced to leave the country.
In December, authorities executed Ruhollah Zam, the manager of the popular Telegram channel Amadnews accused of inciting violence during Iran’s 2017 protests.
The execution sparked a chorus of protests and condemnations, including by the CPJ, which said Iran’s government had now joined “the company of criminal gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them.”
Iran is ranked 174 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2021 World Press Freedom Index.