Iranian officials said they identified the ‘Iran International agent’ arrested on Thursday as Elham Afkari, the sister of famous Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, who was executed two years ago, according to the official IRNA news agency. .
London-based news channel Iran International has become one of the go-to sources for many Iranians seeking information on the ongoing protests in the country.
The opposition television channel, described on Tuesday as a “terrorist” organization by Iran’s intelligence minister, denied any association with Elham.
In a statement sent to CNN, the London-based broadcaster said Elham “is not an employee of Iran International, nor an associate or agent of the company.”
His brother, Navid Afkari, was convicted of murdering Hassan Torkman, a water company security worker, during a protest in Shiraz in 2018.
Initially, Afkari confessed to the crime, but in court he recanted, arguing that he had been tortured to make a false confession.
“It should be noted that she [Elham Afkari] is the sister of Navid Afkari, the assassin of the martyr Torkman, an employee of the regional water company of Fars province,” IRNA reported.
“Intelligence agents have been monitoring Elham Afkari’s activities for some years,” IRNA said, adding that “she was a key leader in organizing the recent riots.”
State media shared photos allegedly showing Elham’s arrest. The footage shows a woman sitting in the backseat of a vehicle with screened windows, with a black blindfold over her face.
Saeed Afkari, Elham and Navid’s brother, confirmed his sister’s arrest on Twitter on Thursday, saying Elham’s three-year-old daughter was also missing.
He later said that Elham was taken to a department of Iran’s intelligence ministry and his sister’s wife and daughter were released.
“Elham was taken to Department #100 of the Ministry of Intelligence,” he tweeted.
Since Navid Afkari’s execution, his family has faced numerous trials for involvement in the 2018 protests.
Vahid Afkari, one of his brothers, remains in solitary confinement, according to rights group Iran Human Rights.
Founded in 2017, Iran International has been at the forefront of covering recent protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman detained by vice police for not wearing her dress properly. hijab.
However, the 24-hour news channel’s coverage of the protests has placed it under the control of the Iranian government.
This week, Iran International said two of its British-Iranian journalists working in the UK had been tipped off by police about a “credible” plot by Iran to kill them.
In a statement on Monday, the Farsi-language broadcaster said it was “shocked and deeply concerned” by the alleged deadly threats, while accusing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of being part of a “significant escalation and dangerous” of the “campaign” of Tehran. to intimidate Iranian journalists working abroad.
“Two of our Anglo-Iranian journalists have been informed in recent days of an increase in threats against them,” Iran International said in the statement.
“The Metropolitan Police have now formally advised the two journalists that these threats pose an imminent, credible and significant risk to their lives and those of their families.”
Iran International did not name the journalists for security reasons.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said that since Monday, at least 61 journalists have been arrested in Iran for reasons including covering protests, reporting on the deaths of protesters and taking photos of protests, according to a report. organisation.