Iran cracks down on press freedom, jails 2 women journalists

Iranian journalists sentenced to prison for "conspiracy" and "collusion"

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Two female Iranian journalists, Negin Bagheri and Elnaz Mohammadi, have been sentenced to three years in prison for “conspiracy” and “collusion”. The journalists, who work for the reformist Ham Mihan daily newspaper, will serve one-fourth of their sentence, or less than a month, in prison. The remaining period of their sentence has been suspended for five years, during which time they will be required to take “professional ethics training” and are prohibited from leaving the country.

The journalists were arrested in September 2022 for reporting on the funeral of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody. Amini’s death sparked months-long nationwide protests against the Iranian government.

The journalists’ lawyer, Amir Raisian, did not elaborate on the allegations against them or whether the verdict can be appealed.

The sentencing of the two journalists is the latest in a series of crackdowns on press freedom in Iran. In recent years, Iranian authorities have arrested and detained dozens of journalists, including several high-profile figures.

The crackdown on journalists has been condemned by human rights groups, who have accused the Iranian government of trying to silence dissent.

The sentencing of Bagheri and Mohammadi is a reminder of the challenges facing journalists in Iran, who are often targeted by the government for their work. It is also a reminder of the importance of press freedom in a democratic society.

In addition to Bagheri and Mohammadi, several other journalists have been arrested in recent months. These include Nazila Maroufian, who was arrested for not wearing the headscarf in public. Elahe Mohammadi, the sister of Elnaz Mohammadi, was arrested for reporting on the funeral of Mahsa Amini. Hengameh Shahidi was arrested for reporting on the protests that followed Amini’s death.

The arrests of these journalists are a serious blow to press freedom in Iran. They are a reminder of the risks that journalists face in reporting on sensitive topics. They also raise concerns about the Iranian government’s commitment to freedom of expression.

The international community should condemn the arrests of these journalists and call for their release. They should also urge the Iranian government to respect press freedom and allow journalists to do their work without fear of reprisal.

Shaheer Gul Khan is a final-year student of English Literature at Government College University (GCU) Lahore. Strives to create a challenging and engaging environment having editor skills in freelancing, a goal-oriented. He can be reached at Twitter @HafizShaheerGu1.