Iran has sentenced the brother of exiled Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad to eight years in prison, according to his lawyer. Alinejad says her brother is being punished for resisting pressures from the regime to publicly denounce her.
Alinejad’s brother, Alireza Alinejad, was arrested at his home in Tehran in September 2019.
He has been sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “conspiring to act against national security,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and spreading “propaganda against the regime,” his lawyer said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Masih Alinejad, a US-based journalist and an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime, says authorities are punishing her brother for refusing to denounce her on state TV as well as for refusing to cooperate with Iran’s security apparatus in order to “kidnap” and bring her back to Iran.
“My brother Alireza’s crimes are the following: loving his sister, refusing to disown me on state TV, and refusing to cooperate with the Revolutionary Guards’ plot to lure me to Turkey and kidnap me to Iran,” Alinejad tweeted.
“My brother is innocent and he is taken hostage by the Islamic Republic of Iran to punish me for my activities. Hostage-taking is in the DNA of this brutal regime,” she added.
Iranian journalists and activists abroad often complain that authorities attempt to pressure them by harassing their relatives inside the country.
In November 2019, London-based news channel Iran International said families of its staff in Iran were subject to harassment from the Ministry of Intelligence due to the channel’s coverage of the country’s anti-government protests at the time.
Many Iranians came out in support of Alinejad on social media.
“Eight years in prison [for Alireza Alinejad] because his sister’s activism displeases the regime and because he refuses to condemn her,” Iranian journalist Shahed Alavi tweeted on Wednesday.
“Iran’s government imprisoned, abused, and exiled journalist Masih Alinejad, but she persisted in her civil rights advocacy. Consequently, they took her innocent brother Ali hostage, to coerce him to turn on her,” Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tweeted. “When he refused, they’ve now given him an 8-year prison sentence.”
Iran’s government imprisoned, abused, and exiled journalist Masih Alinejad, but she persisted in her civil rights advocacy. Consequently, they took her innocent brother Ali hostage, to coerce him to turn on her. When he refused, they’ve now given him an 8-year prison sentence. https://t.co/o6oBaUnlHM— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) July 15, 2020