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Amnesty Blasts Iran's Mass Arrests

A group of protesters rally at the old Grand Bazaar in Tehran in June.
A group of protesters rally at the old Grand Bazaar in Tehran in June.

More than 7,000 people were arrested in Iran in 2018 in what Amnesty International has called Tehran's "year of shame" and a "shameless campaign of repression."

Amnesty said in a report on January 24 that among those arrested in 2018 were protesters, students, journalists, environmental activists, workers, and human rights defenders.

Some 50 of those arrested were media workers, of whom at least 20 "were sentenced to harsh prison or flogging sentences after unfair trials," the report said.

"2018 will go down in history as a 'year of shame' for Iran," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director.

"Iran's authorities sought to stifle any sign of dissent by stepping up their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and carrying out mass arrests of protesters."

On January 23, an Iranian court sentenced journalist Yashar Soltani to five years in prison. State news agency IRNA said the court found Soltani guilty of false reporting and insulting entities. In recent years, Soltani has routinely investigated corruption in Iran's public sector.

The authorities in recent months have also detained several other journalists and activists on security-related charges.

On January 22, three writers -- Reza Mahabadi, Keivan Bajan, and Bektash Abtin -- were detained after they couldn't pay bail following accusations of plotting against national security.

On the same day, another court sentenced two activists, Reza Khandan and Farhad Mesami, to six years in prison each. In December, a court sentenced journalist Hamed Aynehvand to six years.

With reporting by AP