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Tuesday, November 22, 2022 – An Iranian photojournalist who was due to follow his ‘dream’ of working at a World Cup is reported to have been arrested and imprisoned in his home nation.

It was reported that Arya Jafari may have been detained in order to stop pictures of protests which followed a young woman’s death in custody from being shared and released internationally.

News of his arrest amid a 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 after protests in 2014 which were triggered by a spate of acid attacks against women.

The former kayaker for Iran’s national team had retweeted a picture of a protest on the streets of the country in his last post on the platform.

Saman Javadi, who runs social media channels dedicated to the Iranian 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: ‘He was supposed to work for the first time at a FIFA World Cup, as his friend and colleague Amir Hosseini has said on Instagram. He was arrested a few days after the death of Mahsa Amini, following the protests in the streets.

‘Personally, I don’t know the reason of his arrest, but he was previously arrested in 2014 during other protests in Iran.

‘It probably happened to prevent him from doing his work professionally; reporting the protests means that his pictures would be published outside of Iran. Have you seen video or pictures of protests from any reporter?

‘No, unfortunately, they have only been from social media so it’s very difficult to verify the source. Fact-checking is missing from the current protests in Iran, since journalists are not allowed to cover these events.’

On Instagram, Mr Hosseini described how the photojournalist had contacted him with ‘good news’, which turned out to be that he was due to 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 was going to achieve his dream and go to the World Cup as a photographer. I was happy with all my heart that he was finally going to get what he deserves.’

Mr Hosseini added: ‘He could have easily been in Qatar at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, like all the photographers in the world, recording the most important sports 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 that 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 detained by Iran’s morality police. Mr. Jafari, from the central city of Isfahan, is described as being ‘in prison’ on ‘unknown’ charges by the group.

The 22-year-old’s death for failing to wear her hijab properly sparked unprecedented protests across the country, with many women joining rallies despite an often violent response from the police.

Weeks of demonstrations led to 32 journalists being arrested as of November 10, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

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