Iran’s judiciary has denied that two female journalists who have been detained for 10 months are being prosecuted for having reported on the September death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.
Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi “cooperated with the hostile government of the United States on occasions,” judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told a press conference on August 1, adding that “a comprehensive report on this matter will be available to the Iranian people.”
He did not elaborate further.
Amini, 22, died on September 16, three days after being arrested by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly. Her death triggered months of demonstrations that quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The authorities cracked down hard on the women-led protest movement, killing hundreds of people and unlawfully detaining thousands, including dozens of journalists.
Hamedi, a reporter for Sharhg newspaper, and Mohammadi, a reporter for Hammihan newspaper, were arrested during the initial days of the nationwide protests. They are being held at Tehran’s Evin prison.
Their separate trials ended last month after two closed-door hearings, and Setayeshi said the court was now drafting a verdict.
The two journalists face charges including "collaboration with the hostile government of the United States," "gathering and collusion to commit a crime against national security" and "propaganda activity against the Islamic Republic."
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) labeled both trials as a “sham” and urged the Iranian authorities to "stop terrorising" journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the trials a “travesty of justice.”
Before her arrest, Hamedi captured an image of Amini’s parents embracing each other at a Tehran hospital while their daughter was in a coma, and shared the photo on Twitter.
Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in her Kurdish hometown of Saqqez, where the widespread protests initially erupted.
Iran ranked as the world’s worst jailer of journalists in CPJ’s 2022 prison census, which documented those behind bars as of December 1.
According to the New York-based media freedom watchdog, the Islamic Republic has detained at least 95 journalists during last year’s nationwide protests.
Many have been released on bail while awaiting trial or summonses to serve multi-year sentences.