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Society & Culture

Mehdi Zaboli, Crime: Journalism

August 26, 2014
2 min read
Mehdi Zaboli, Crime: Journalism

Photojournalist Mohammad Mehdi Zaboli was arrested and sent to two separate detention centers, where he was tortured, not allowed any food or water and forced to share a cell with 40 other prisoners. Though he was later released, he was never informed of the charges against him.

Name: Mohammad Mehdi Zaboli

Career: Photographer and correspondent for the publication Mam Shahri.

Charges: Unknown.

Mohammad Mehdi Zaboli was arrested on June 20, 2009. “The Intelligence Ministry, dressed in plainclothes, arrested me at gunpoint after they beat me up and cracked my skull,” he told IranWire. “They took away my camera bag and my personal documents. Then they took me and some other people they’d arrested on the same street to a police station.”

While at the detention center, he continued to be mentally and physically tortured until a nurse said he needed to be hospitalized because of a hemorrhage to his skull and the possibility of trauma to the brain. He was transferred to Sajjad Hospital, which operates under the security forces. “To humiliate me,” he said, “They forced me to undress. They didn’t even use anesthetics to stitch up my head and the thread they used wasn’t the right kind. I received the most basic  treatment so as to prevent me dying. I spent one night in prison handcuffed to the bed. Then they took me to Tehran Security Police.”

Throughout this ordeal, he was not allowed to contact his family or his place of work. “For three days I was locked in a very small basement with 40 other prisoners without food or water. It was so small that we had to sleep standing up. We were tortured mentally and physically and they forced prisoners to stand naked in front of one another. They would not allow us to go to the bathroom.”

Zaboli was later transferred to Evin Prison. He spent three days in solitary confinement and was later moved to Cell Block 240. He was released on July15, 2009, but the Islamic Republic’s judiciary never specified the charges against him.

“I was a photojournalist for Ham Shahri before the arrest, but they confiscated all my equipment which had cost me 12 million tomans [around $4,500]. Ham Shahri and the Iranian press refused to give me any support,” he told IranWire, speaking about his disappointment. “I received several warning letters [from security forces]. After I got married, they also started threatening my wife. I was forced to leave Iran in order to keep my family safe.”

Zaboli and his wife now live in exile in Malaysia.

Please contact [email protected] with comments, updates or further information about cases. 

Read other cases in the series:

Jila Baniyaghoob

Isa Saharkhiz

Ali Ashraf-Fathi 

Mojtaba Pourmohsen

Mahsa Jozeini

Saba Azarpeik




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