An Iranian photojournalist who was to realize his “dream” of working at a World Cup has reportedly been arrested and imprisoned in his home country.
It has been reported that Arya Jafari was allegedly detained in order to prevent photos of protests following the death of a young woman in police custody from being shared and disseminated internationally.
News of his arrest amid a crackdown on dissent by the country’s hardline religious leaders 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 had previously been detained after protests in 2014 sparked by a series of acid attacks on women.
The former Iranian national team kayaker retweeted a photo of a protest in 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 competitions.
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 said on Instagram. He was arrested a few days after the death of Mahsa Amini, following demonstrations in the streets.
“Personally, I don’t know the reason for his arrest, but he had already been arrested in 2014 during other protests in Iran.
“It probably happened to prevent him from doing his job professionally; reporting the protests means his photos would be published outside of Iran. Have you seen any videos or photos of protests by a journalist?
“No, unfortunately they only come from social media, so it’s very difficult to verify the source.” Fact-checking is lacking in the current protests in Iran, as journalists are not allowed to cover these events.
On Instagram, Mr Hosseini described how the photojournalist contacted him with “good news”, which turned out to be that he had 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 fulfill his dream and go to the World Cup as a photographer.” I was happy with all my heart that he finally got what he deserved.
Mr Hosseini added: “He could easily have been in Qatar at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, like all the photographers in the world, recording the most important sporting event in the world.”
“But he gave up the World Cup to be with the people of his country.”
Human rights group Journalism is not a crime 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 detained by the Iranian morality police. Mr Jafari, from the central city of Isfahan, is described as being “in jail” on charges “unknown” by the group.
The 22-year-old’s death for not wearing her hijab properly has sparked unprecedented protests across the country, with many women joining rallies despite an often violent response from police.
Weeks of protests led to the arrest of 32 journalists as early as November 10, according to the International Federation of Journalists.