Security forces in Iran have arrested a former popular Iranian TV presenter, for criticizing the Islamic Republic.
Mahmoud Shahriari was arrested Wednesday morning, April 15, Young Journalists Club (YJC), a news agency run by the monopolized state-run Radio&TV network (IRIB) reported.
Shahriari was detained for "disseminating false news about the novel coronavirus outbreak in Iran”, YJC maintained, without elaborating on the content of the so-called fake news.
Earlier, Shahriari had accused the government of initially covering up the spread of the virus not to discourage people from participating in the state-run ceremonies, celebrating the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic on February 11.
He had also made fun of the clerics who dominate Iran on social media for their inactivity and lethargy.
"We have been in quarantine for a month, only eating and sleeping... Poor clergy! What a hardship they have endured in the past forty years", Shahriari sarcastically said.
A vociferous critic of the Islamic Republic, Shahriari, 60, was recently banned from appearing on radio and TV shows.
He had earlier blasted the government for letting the Iraqi Shi'ite militia enter Iran supposedly to assist flood-stricken people in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, southwest Iran.
Furthermore, to protest billion-dollar embezzlements under religious pretexts, Shahriari had shaved his beard.
A favorite TV presenter since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979 Shahriari's popularity peaked in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, he was temporarily banned from appearing on the monopolized state-run TV, after a controversial video showing him dancing at his brother's wedding party, widely circulated on the internet.
On January 22, 2020, Shahriari predicted a "hellish" future for Iranians.
Referring to his discussions with economic experts, Shahriari addressed the people of Iran in a video, maintaining, "The [new Iranian] year [beginning on March 21, 2020], will be a hellish year for the public from the economic perspective. The government is under sanctions and unable to sell oil---Since it could not sell oil…the government has chosen…to grab money from the pockets of the people – and the increase in fuel prices is an obvious example of this."