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Journalism is not a Crime

RSF: Journalists in Iran “Deserve to Be Celebrated, Not Imprisoned”

November 24, 2023
1 min read
An Iranian newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody in September last year sparked months of protests across the country (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency)
An Iranian newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody in September last year sparked months of protests across the country (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for the release of two journalists imprisoned in Iran, saying they are “paying, like many of their colleagues in the country, the price of their duty to inform.”

Saeedeh Shafiei and Nasim Sultanbeigi were sentenced to three and a half years in prison amid a crackdown on the media and dissent following a popular uprising that erupted in September last year.

Shafiei went to Tehran’s Evin prison to begin serving her sentence on November 19, while Sultanbeigi joined her there two days later. 

The two journalists were tried at a public hearing in early July and were convicted later that month of colluding, participating in illegal gatherings and disseminating anti-government propaganda.

Their convictions were upheld in September.

Besides receiving prison terms, Shafiei and Sultanbeigi were banned from traveling abroad and joining any group or organization for two years after their release. 

The pair had been released provisionally in February after being arrested the previous month for covering the monthslong nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody on September 16, 2022. 

“The Islamic Republic continues to exact its revenge against journalists who…have fulfilled their duties in serving the public’s right to news and information,” Jonathan Dagher, head of RSF’s Middle East desk, said in a statement on November 23.

Shafiei and Sultanbeigi “are courageous reporters, like their ten colleagues who are also being held for covering the protests.They deserve to be celebrated, not imprisoned,” he added.

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