Iran’s legal system has revealed formal legal charges against two journalists – Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi – who have been held in provisional custody for seven months. On Wednesday, April 26, Masoud Setayeshi, the judiciary spokesperson, labeled the charges against the two detained reporters as “cooperation with the antagonistic U.S. government, conspiracy and collaboration in carrying out offenses against national security, and engaging in propaganda activities against the regime.” Their cases have now been forwarded on to the Islamic Revolutionary Court.
Hamedi, a journalist for Shargh newspaper, and Mohammadi, a journalist for Hammihan newspaper, were detained and incarcerated after reporting on the death of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the Ershad patrol. Over the last seven months, the heads of Shargh and Hammihan newspapers have consistently asserted the innocence of the two reporters, maintaining that they were merely performing their professional journalistic responsibilities.
Numerous journalists and civil activists have persistently protested the detention of these two reporters, calling for their release in public letters. However, their pleas have been met only with silence from the judicial authorities.
The imprisonment of these journalists has been so prolonged that another reporter unjustly imprisoned had been released, and then re-arrested, while they remain incarcerated. Keyvan Samimi, a political activist and journalist, had been released from jail less than three months prior, only to be apprehended once more two weeks ago.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demanded the release of Keyvan Samimi and other incarcerated journalists in Iran in a statement issued on Tuesday, April 25. Harassment and pressure on journalists have been a longstanding issue in the history of Iran’s press, transcending the differences between various government administrations. Following the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the systematic and deliberate targeting of journalists, their expulsion from their jobs, and their imprisonment have been constants in the authoritarian state.
Iran has endured multiple periods of intense media censorship. Notably, there was a complete shutdown of almost all of the independent press in the spring of 2000. In 2009, journalists faced brutal repression , marking some of the most egregious attacks on the press in history. Following that in 2012 and 2015, numerous journalists were simultaneously apprehended and incarcerated for extended periods. The mass arrests and repression of journalists in the fall of 2022, following the killing of Mahsa Amini while in police custody, has been among the most intense periods of repression targeting journalists in recent years. Scores of journalists have been detained, summoned, and tormented by security forces and the oppression apparatus.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, in its previous winter’s annual report, labeled Iran “the world’s largest prison for journalists” due to the surge in arrests. Many of these journalists were taken into custody and later released on hefty bails, but were left with an ambiguous legal status where they were uncertain if charges would be filed against them. Their careers hang in the balance, and they live under the persistent threat of potential future charges.
Journalists like Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi have been detained for more than seven months, still awaiting their court dates. In other instances, like Maryam Vahidian, a former reporter for Shargh, Etemad, and Roydad 24, no amnesty has been offered, and they are left waiting for their court verdicts.
Below, we list out the dozens of journalists who were targeted by authorities during the latest protest movement, part of a deliberate effort to prevent the people of Iran from hearing the truth and against Iran’s international rights obligations to protect freedom of the press. According to the documents at our disposal, 80 journalists were called into the country’s security institutions during this time.
- Niloufar Hamedi was detained at her residence in Tehran on September 22, 2022, She is still detained.
- Elaheh Mohammadi was detained at her residence in Tehran on September 29, 2022, She is still detained.
- Vida Rabbani, a journalist advocating for freedom rights, was arrested in Tehran September 22, 2022. In prison, she is serving the sentence for her previous case.
- Omid Hormozi, a sports journalist, was detained on November 24, 2022, he is still detained.
- Hoda Toheidi, a journalist, was apprehended on September 22, 2022.
- Yalda Moayeri, a photojournalist, was apprehended on September 21, 2022 while on a media assignment and subsequently transferred to Gharchak prison in Varamin.
- Hashem Moazenzadeh, a media activist, was arrested in Tehran on September 21, 2022.
- Ashkan Shamipour, an activist from Khuzestan, was detained on October 1.
- Afshin Gholami, the editor of Tafakor Enteghadi, was arrested in Tehran On October 12.
- Omid Tahan Bidhendi, a freelance reporter and former Mehr News Agency staff, was arrested in Tehran On October 4.
- Aria Jafari, a photographer from ISNA photo agency, was arrested in Isfahan on September 25 2022.
- Hossein Yazdi, media manager of Iran Times and Mobin 24, was apprehended in Isfahan on December 5 2022.
- Reza Asadabadi, a reporter for ILNA, was apprehended on November 23, 2022.
- Rohollah Nakhai was detained at a friend’s house on September 23.
- Zahra Toheidi, a political reporter, was arrested at her sister’s residence on September 22, 2022.
- Sajad Rahmani, a journalist and a member of the Press House of Gilan province, was taken into custody on November 13, 2022.
- Shahriar Ghanbari, the director in charge of Badban magazine, was arrested in Khorramabad on October 2, 2022.
- Saba Sher Doost, a freelance reporter, was apprehended on October 11.
- Ali Khatibzadeh, a journalist for the Mokarian news agency, was arrested in Saqez on September 20, 2022.
- Alireza Jabari Darestani, a Mehr Social Correspondent, was arrested in Tehran on September 25, 2022
- Alireza Khoshbakht, a journalist, was apprehended at his residence on September 22, 2022.
- Fateme Nasser Ranjbar, who works in public relations for Digikala, was apprehended in November 2022.
- Farkhundeh Ashuri, a freelance journalist and former Fars news agency reporter, was arrested in Shiraz city on October 17.
- Farzan Yahya Abadi, a local reporter, was detained at his workplace on October 19, 2022 in Abadan.
- Fahima Nazari, a history field reporter, was identified at her private home on November 23.
- Marzieh (Zeinab) Amiri Ghahfarkhi, a journalist in the field and labor sector, was taken into custody on November 1, 2022.
- Marzieh Talai, a journalist for the Mokarian news agency, was arrested on September 20, 2022 in Saghez.
- Maryam Vahidian, a reporter for the Labor Department and Shargh Network, was arrested on Nov 27 at her home in Tehran
- Masoud Kordpour, head of Mokrian news agency, arrested on September 20, 2022 in Bukan
- Maliheh Darki, photojournalist in Shiraz, was arrested on October 26, 2022 in Abadan city.
- Mehrnoosh Tafian, a local reporter in Khuzestan, arrested on September 28, 2022 in Ahvaz.
- Nazila Maroufian was arrested on October 30, 2022.
- Nasrin Hasani, reporter of the local newspaper Etefaghieh, was arrested on September 30, 2022 in Bojnord city.
- Amir Abbasi was arrested in December.
- Milad Alavi was arrested in December.
- Mehdi Ghadimi was arrested in December.
- Maryam Ghannad was arrested in December.
- Said Shafiei (his case is ongoing and he has been summoned for the last defense)
- Mehrnoosh Zarei Hanzaki (her case is ongoing and he has been summoned for the last defense)
- Nasim Soltan Begi (her case is ongoing and he has been summoned for the last defense)