Iranian photographer on his way to World Cup disappears after arrest

Iranian photographer on his way to World Cup disappears after arrest

Caption: Exclusive: Iranian photographer misses 'dream' to go to World Cup after reported arrest Credit: Journalism Is Not a Crime/Arya Jafari

Iranian photojournalist Arya Jafari did not join the media pack at the World Cup in Qatar after his arrest (Photo: Journalism is Not a Crime/File image)

An Iranian photojournalist who would realize his ‘dream’: to work for a World Cup has reportedly been arrested and imprisoned in his home country.

Arya Jafari may have been detained to prevent photos of protests following the death of a young woman in custody from being shared and released internationally.

News of his arrest amid a draconian crackdown on dissent by the country’s hardline clerical rulers was originally shared on Instagram by his friend and colleague, Amir Hosseini.

The reason for the 34-year-old’s arrest is unclear, but he was previously detained following protests in 2014 sparked by a spate of acid attacks against women.

The former Iranian national kayaker had retweeted a photo of a protest in the streets of Iran in his latest post on the platform.

Saman Javadi, who manages social media channels dedicated to Iran’s football team, told Metro.co.uk that Mr Jafari was a professional photographer who had previously competed in slalom.

Mr Javadi, who lives in Italy, said: ‘It would be his first time working on a FIFA World Cup, as his friend and colleague Amir Hosseini has said on Instagram. He was arrested a few days after Mahsa Amini’s death, following the protests on the streets.

“Personally, I don’t know the reason for his arrest, but he was arrested earlier in 2014 during other protests in Iran.

Arya Jafari

Arya Jafari was arrested in 2014 for covering protests after acid attacks on Iranian women (Photo: Journalism is not a crime)

“It probably happened to keep him from doing his job professionally; reporting the protests means his photos would be published outside of Iran. Have you seen videos or photos of protests from a reporter?

“No, unfortunately they only come from social media, so it is very difficult to verify the source. There is no fact check in the current protests in Iran, as journalists are not allowed to report on these events.’

On Instagram, Mr Hosseini described how the photojournalist had contacted him with ‘good news’, which turned out to be that he would travel to Qatar in time for the opening ceremony.

He wrote: ‘The good news was that after all these years of photography and effort he would fulfill his dream and go to the World Cup as a photographer. I was glad with all my heart that he would finally get what he deserved.’

Iran supporters wave a national flag with the words ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ during the World Cup match against England (Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP)

Mr Jafari’s Instagram page suggests he had focused on Iranian football in the run-up to the World Cup. On Twitter, his latest activity was to retweet other users’ photos of protests in the streets of Iran, the most recent of which was September 21.

Hosseini said his friend “could have kept quiet” and was at the FIFA games in the wealthy emirate, where Iran lost 6-2 to England at the Khalifa International Stadium today.

Hosseini added: “He could easily have been in Qatar at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, like all photographers in the world, to capture the most important sporting event in the world.

“But he gave up the World Cup to be with the people of his country.”

The Journalism is not a crime human rights group said Mr Jafari was arrested at his home on September 25 amid protests over the death of Mahsa Amini. She is said to have fallen into a coma while being held by the Iranian vice squad. Mr Jafari, from the central city of Isfahan, is described by the group as “in jail” on “unknown” charges.

Iran’s players did not sing the national anthem before their World Cup match with England (Image: Marko Djurica/Reuters)

The 22-year-old’s death for not wearing her hijab correctly sparked unprecedented protests across the country, with many women taking part in rallies despite an often violent police response.

Weeks of demonstrations led to the arrest of 32 journalists on Nov. 10, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

On her website, Journalism is Not a Crime said: “Arya Jafari is a seasoned photojournalist and sports reporter.

“He is a member of the Iranian Association of Photojournalists which has announced that people close to Jafari have not received any news about him and the reason for his arrest is unknown.”

Protesters were pictured in the stands of the Khalifa International Stadium holding up banners calling for “freedom” for women in Iran.

Outside, some were depicted making a scissor gesture in a show of defiance against the Iranian rulers as part of the ongoing movement.

Mahsa Amini, 22, poses in an undated photo.  She is in a coma fighting for her life after being arrested in Tehran, Iran, by the so-called morality police of the Islamic Republic.  (news flash)

Mahsa Amini died after being detained by Iranian morality police for not wearing a hijab correctly (Photo: Newsflash)

The sign, which activists say is an ancient Persian symbol of resistance, was used by Iranian striker Saeed Piramoun as his team won the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup in Dubai on November 6.

In a strong show of solidarity with people who oppose the ruling regime in their homeland, the Iranian team stood still for the national anthem before kick-off today. Some of their fans were in tears in the stands.

Several players also braved possible repercussions from the country’s rulers to speak out in favor of the match.

FILE - In this photo, taken by a person not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by morality police, in Tehran, October 1.  , 2022. Iran's Atomic Energy Agency alleged on Sunday, October 23, 2022 that hackers acting on behalf of an unidentified foreigner broke into a subsidiary's network and accessed its email system for free.  Sunday's hack comes as Iran continues to face nationwide unrest, first sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in police custody.  (AP Photo/Middle Eastern Images, file)

Iranians protest in Tehran after Mahsa Amini’s death while she was detained by vice squad (Photo obtained by AP outside Iran)

Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun wrote: “Worst case scenario, I will be fired from the national team.

‘No problem. I would sacrifice that for one hair on the head of Iranian women.

This story will not be deleted. They can do whatever they want.

‘Shame on you that you kill so easily; long live Iranian women.’

Metro.co.uk has attempted to contact FIFA and the Iranian government for comment.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

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