x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

National correspondent is arrested in Iran

Yeganeh Salehi was detained in Tehran along with three others for unknown reasons.

A picture made available on July 25 shows Yeganeh Salehi and Jason Rezaian in Tehran on September 10, 2013. EPA
A picture made available on July 25 shows Yeganeh Salehi and Jason Rezaian in Tehran on September 10, 2013. EPA

ABU DHABI // Yeganeh Salehi, a foreign correspondent for The National, has been detained in Iran for the past two weeks for unknown reasons.

Ms Salehi was arrested on July 22, along with her husband Jason Rezaian, a correspondent for The Washington Post.

The National’s editor-in-chief, Mohammed Al Otaiba, said: “Yeganeh is a highly valued foreign correspondent of ours.

“Her reports from Iran — which at times have been facilitated by the Iranian government — have provided notable insights into the country, helping explain Iran to its neighbours in the Gulf.

“We don’t believe they could in any way be construed as anti-Iranian, nor have they dealt with sensitive security matters. We sincerely hope that Yeganeh is being well-treated and that she is released soon. We want her back doing what she does so well: reporting on a country that she loves.”

Ms Salehi is an Iranian citizen while Mr Rezaian holds both American and Iranian citizenship. Two other journalists were arrested at the same time. One was released but the other, also a dual US-Iran citizen, remains in detention. Their families have requested that their identities are not released.

Gholam Hossein Esmaili, the director general of Tehran Province’s Justice Department, confirmed on July 25 that Mr Rezaian had been detained, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

However, Iranian officials have not publicly commented on Ms Salehi’s detention. She and Mr Rezaian were reportedly taken from their home in Tehran. It remains unclear who arrested them and where they are being held.

The Iranian embassy in Abu Dhabi declined to comment.

The United States, which has no diplomatic ties with Iran, has called for the journalists to be freed.

Ms Salehi began working regularly for The National in January. Her reports offered insights into Iran on subjects that ranged from Iranians’ love for “Team Melli”, the national football team, to how the country’s automobile industry survived years of tough sanctions.

Ms Salehi was also one of the few journalists to travel with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to Iran’s eastern Sistan and Baluchestan Province, where she reported on government plans to develop the region. She also reported on the vast increase in visitors to Iran from GCC states, part of government efforts to increase tourism, along with UAE investment plans in the country.

Ms Salehi is an astute and careful reporter whose stories have expressed her deep love for Iran and desire to accurately represent an often poorly understood nation.

jvela@thenational.ae