An Iranian court on Sunday sentenced two female journalists who covered the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year on charges on “collaborating” with the United States among others. Both journalists were imprisoned for over a year after the coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody.
The journalists have been identified as Niloufar Hamedi, who broke the news of Amini’s death apparently for wearing her headscarf loosely, and Elaheh Mohammadi, who wrote about her funeral. They were sentenced to seven and six years of imprisonment respectively, according to Iranian media.
They were charged with “collaborating with the hostile American government”, “colluding against national security” and “propaganda against the system”. They were detained in September 2022.
However, this is a preliminary sentencing that can be appealed in 20 days. Hamedi and Mohammadi were awarded the UN premier prize for press freedom “for their commitment to truth and accountability” in May.
Mahsa Amini’s death
Amini died on September 16 last year after being arrested on the charges of wearing her hijab improperly. She was reportedly beaten up by officers in the head with a baton after which she called collapsed on the way to a detention centre. Her death provoked widespread protests across Iran, with many refusing to follow the strict dress code.
This resulted in major turbulence in the political arena of the country as a large number of protestors registered their anger against the Ebrahim Raisi-led government. The Iranian regime faced massive pressure from across the world to outlaw the morality police. However, the Iranian authorities did not alter any laws and charged the West for disturbing the law and order situation in the country.
Iranian authorities have called the protests ‘foreign-instigated riots’ and seven men have been executed in protest-related cases. In the crackdown against protests, Iranian authorities are said to have extended their reach towards journalists and media professionals as well.
Since the protests began, at least 529 people have been killed in demonstrations, according to Human Rights activists in Iran. Over 19,700 others have been detained by authorities amid a violent crackdown trying to suppress the dissent.
While nearly 100 journalists were arrested amid the demonstrations, Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi’s reporting was crucial in the days after Amini’s death to spread the word about the anger that followed.
(with AP inputs)