SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 28, 2021

Attack Types: Other


Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 28, 2021, Iranian security forces raided the home of prominent journalist, writer, and former university professor Emadeddin Baghi and confiscated his phones and laptops.

Baghi, a scholar of sociology, worked for eight years at Allameh Tabatabaei University until the Iranian government banned him from teaching. Baghi has authored 20 books on the rights of prisoners and against the use of the death penalty, six of which have been banned by Iranian authorities. Baghi was also the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Faith, before the Iranian government banned it. Since 2000, authorities have detained Baghi at least eight times in apparent retaliation for his expressive activity. He has served at least five years in prison and was put under a travel ban in 2004.

On January 28, Iranian security forces raided Baghi’s home without a warrant and confiscated a laptop, a computer, and three phones. Baghi reported that the raid was in retaliation for his involvement in the production of a documentary about the now-deceased Ayatollah Montazeri, one of the highest ranking ayatollahs in Shia Islam and an advocate for human rights and democracy in Iran.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the raid of a scholar’s home and confiscation of his property in apparent retaliation for nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. States have an obligation not to interfere with the right to freedom of expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. Such action undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.