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Iran death row reporter arrested

BBC News 06/01/2023

An Iranian journalist who interviewed families of protesters who had been sentenced to death has been arrested, his wife and Iranian media say.

Mehdi Beik was detained on Thursday night, reformist newspaper Etemad, which Mr Beik works for, said.

The reasons for his arrest are not known, but it comes amid an ongoing crackdown and anti-government protests.

Iran has been rocked by months of protests since the death of an Iranian Kurdish woman in police custody.

Protests erupted in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained by morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, "improperly". They quickly spread across the country, becoming the most serious challenge to the Islamic Republic since its inception in 1979.

In a tweet on Friday, Mr Beik's wife, Zahra, said he had been "detained by agents of the Ministry of Information and his cell phone, laptop and belongings were seized".

Mr Beik is the head of the politics desk at Etemad. According to US-funded Radio Farda, he is the third journalist whose arrest has been reported in the past week. At least 73 journalists and photojournalists have been arrested since the protests began, pro-reform Faraz news site reported.

Who are the protesters facing execution?

Iranian authorities have tried to stamp out the protests with mass arrests, the use of live fire and through intimidating those they perceive to be linked to protesters or in some way support them. They have also accused foreign forces of fuelling the unrest.

So far, at least 516 protesters have been killed, including 70 children, and 19,262 others arrested, according to the foreign-based Human Rights Activists' News Agency (HRANA). It has also reported the deaths of 68 security personnel.

Two protesters have been executed and some 12 others sentenced to death, according to AFP news agency. Half are awaiting retrial, it says.

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