By MALI ABDULLAHI | NBC NEWS – September 07, 2019 – 12:03:22As Iran’s regime unravels under mounting international pressure and sanctions, the news cycle around the country’s press has been dominated by the latest developments.
For example, a new wave of defectors to the country has surfaced in recent weeks.
They have been identified as two Iranian journalists who worked in the English language press in Tehran, a small city just east of the capital.
Iran’s ruling elite has been trying to contain the unrest, which has also gripped the countrys western Quds Force region, by banning social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
The two journalists are believed to have worked for the English-language press outlet Iran Radio, which was once the country s largest news outlet.
Iran Radio has since been shut down by the countryss authorities.
One of the defectors, Fereydoun Abbasi, said that in the past year he has witnessed a new influx of defections, saying he has received a flood of letters from journalists who had gone missing.
“They say, ‘We went missing in the city,’ or ‘we are in exile, I don’t know where we are,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t think we should leave the country,'” Abbasi told Al Jazeera.
He also told Al-Jazeera that he was now in contact with at least a dozen Iranian journalists, who had also been taken into custody.
Abbasi, a reporter with Iran Radio for the past 15 years, was arrested by Iranian security forces on January 24, a week after he left Tehran.
He was charged with defaming the government and inciting sectarian hatred.
His arrest has raised questions about the state of Iran’s journalism, as the country is not known for its independent media.
The Iranian government, which regards media as a tool for propaganda and the threat of foreign meddling, has not commented on the latest arrest.
Last month, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the country an independent media state and the country will be free of foreign interference.
Iran has one of the highest rates of arrests for media in the world, according to a 2014 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
According to the International Federation of Journalists, Tehran arrests at least 300 journalists a day, including many journalists from the English speaking world.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has tried to downplay the rising number of defectives and said that the country had not been involved in the “murder of journalists”.
Iranian news organizations, however, are also under pressure.
The International Association of Journalists said it was “shocked and concerned” by the arrests of two Iranian reporters and that “the situation is not improving.”
Iran’s authorities have also imposed sanctions on media, particularly in the Quds force region.
The sanctions, however have not been fully lifted, and have been accompanied by increased restrictions on the country from the European Union and the United States.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Elshamy, reporting from Tehran, said the new wave had not gone unnoticed by the government.
“There are some very good journalists out there who are reporting and publishing,” he said.
“Iran’s state of emergency means that people can go about their business, but the problem is that the Iranian government doesn’t want people to go about reporting the truth.”
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press contributed to this report.