Iran has sentenced two female journalists, Negin Bagheri and Elnaz Mohammadi, to a three-year prison term with a significant portion of the sentence suspended, citing allegations of “conspiracy” and “collusion.”
This recent development has raised concerns about press freedom within the country. The two journalists will serve a fraction of their sentences, amounting to less than a month in prison, according to their lawyer, Amir Raisian.
The remaining portion of the sentence is suspended for five years, during which they are mandated to undergo “professional ethics training” and are prohibited from leaving Iran.
The details regarding the specific allegations against Bagheri and Mohammadi were not disclosed in the report, leaving questions about the nature of their charges unanswered.
This sentencing follows a distressing pattern in Iran, where journalists frequently encounter challenges and dangers while carrying out their work. Elnaz Mohammadi’s sister, Elahe, also a journalist working for Ham Mihan, has been detained since September 2022.
Her arrest stemmed from her coverage of the funeral of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who tragically died while in police custody. Amini’s death led to widespread nationwide protests, as she was initially detained for an alleged violation of Iran’s dress code.
The protests that took place in 2022 resulted in numerous casualties, including multiple fatalities and the arrest of thousands of individuals. Authorities labelled these protests as “foreign-instigated ‘riots,'” and in protest-related cases involving violence against security forces, seven men have been executed.
Rights groups based outside Iran have reported a surge in arrests leading up to the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. This ongoing suppression of journalists and media professionals underscores growing concerns regarding press freedom within Iran.
Moreover, it was reported last month that Iranian authorities have either detained or questioned over 90 journalists since the protests in 2022. The recent re-arrest of journalist Nazila Maroufian, who had previously been released on bail after defying Iran’s strict dress code, further highlights the country’s restrictive stance on press freedom.
These developments underscore the formidable challenges faced by journalists in Iran and emphasize the critical need to safeguard the fundamental right to freedom of the press within the nation.