Oct. 17, 2021
Arash Sharmand was first summoned, interrogated and threatened by security forces for participating in a sit-in, in September 2018, in the midst of a teachers' strike.
On September 22, 2021, students in a village around the city of Ahar refused to go to school. Discussions between the parents and their children revealed that the students had been sexually harassed by their teacher.
According to the students' families, the defendant had repeatedly sexually abused the 15 male and female students of the school over the previous two years.
The villagers arrested the school teacher and handed him over to the Ahar police, but the accused was released shortly afterwards.
The accused is about 50 years old and is a member of the Basij, a teacher living in Ahar who has a close relationship with the Friday prayer leader and other religious and political institutions in the city.
Following the news of the sexual harassment in Ahar by the media, the city prosecutor threatened the media and journalists with legal action.
Ahar prosecutor Rahim Abdollahi told the media in an interview on September 26 that the Special Branch of the Ahar Public and Revolutionary Court was investigating the charges of child molestation against a teacher from Ahar. He also first accused journalists and media outlets, who exposed the sexual harassment of Ahari students, of "spreading false news" and "disturbing public opinion" and then threaten them with legal action.
On September 30, Abolfazl Pourhoseinoghli, an environmental activist and the managing editor of the Sehrama news channel, and a day later, on October 1, Arash Shadmand, a photographer and journalist for Sehrama, were arrested for publishing the news of the teacher's abuse.
Arash Shadmand was arrested by security forces in Tabriz without a court order and transferred to an unknown location.
After his arrest, officers searched his home and confiscated some equipment, including a laptop, computer case, camera, flash memory and other items.
Two weeks after their arrest, it was discovered that both journalists had been transferred to A-1 detention center in Sarollah base of the Revolutionary Guard in Tehran.