Iran's IRGC accused of 'kidnapping' body of exiled journalist before burial

Reza Haghighatnejad, who left Iran in 2008, died of cancer in Germany on Tuesday

Reza Haghighatnejad. Photo: Radio Farda
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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “kidnapped” the body of an exiled Iranian journalist when it was returned to Iran for burial, his former employer has said.

Reza Haghighatnejad, who worked for Radio Farda, a US-funded Farsi outlet based in Prague, died following a long battle with cancer on Tuesday.

IRGC forces took his body to an unknown location after his coffin arrived at Shiraz airport, Radio Farda said on Wednesday.

His family had reportedly resisted pressure to bury him in a cemetery outside of Shiraz.

Haghighatnejad was forced to leave Iran after increased pressure on journalists following the 2008 elections.

He focused on corruption in Iran during his three years at Radio Farda, it said, producing reports on the petrochemical industry and the IRGC itself.

His last tweet, on October 3, was a video of schoolgirls protesting in Karaj.

Dissident journalists in Iran are regularly targeted by authorities.

At least 40 journalists have been arrested since the latest protests began in mid-September, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which also said at least four were unaccounted for after a deadly fire at Evin prison on October 15.

Iran is the world's third biggest jailer of journalists.

In 2020, it executed journalist Ruhollah Zam, who had sought safety in France after the 2009 Green Movement protests. Reporter Without Borders said he was kidnapped and forcibly returned to Iran before being accused of espionage and “corruption on earth.”

At least 141 people have been killed since protests began over the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16.

The families of several protesters have claimed the IRGC has refused to release the bodies of protesters unless relatives deny they were killed by security forces.

IRGC forces also intervened in the funerals of the victims of Flight PS752, which was downed by the IRGC after take-off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport in January 2020, killing all 176 on board.

Families of the victims reported a heavy IRGC presence at burials and relatives were forced to bury their dead in “pre-selected graves.”

Updated: October 26, 2022, 2:46 PM