Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A court in Iran sentenced two female journalists to up to seven years in prison for “collaborating” with the United States government among other charges, local reports said. Both have been imprisoned for over a year following their coverage of the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody in Sept. 2022.
This is a preliminary sentencing that can be appealed in 20 days.
The two journalists, Niloufar Hamedi, who broke the news of Amini’s death for wearing her headscarf too loosely, and Elaheh Mohammadi, who wrote about her funeral, were sentenced to seven and six years in jail respectively, reported the judiciary news website, Mizan on Sunday.
Tehran Revolutionary Court charged them with “collaborating with the hostile American government,” “colluding against national security” and “propaganda against the system,” according to Mezan.
Hamedi worked for the reformist newspaper Shargh while Mohammadi for Ham-Mihan. They were detained in September 2022.
In May, the United Nations awarded them both its premier prize for press freedom “for their commitment to truth and accountability.”
Amini’s death touched off months-long protests in dozens of cities across Iran. The demonstrations posed one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement protests drew millions to the streets.
While nearly 100 journalists were arrested amid the demonstrations, Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi’s reporting was crucial in the days after Amini’s death to spread the word about the anger that followed.
Their detentions have sparked international criticism over the bloody security force crackdown that lasted months after Amini’s death.
Since the protests began, at least 529 people have been killed in demonstrations, according to Human Rights activists in Iran. Over 19,700 others have been detained by authorities amid a violent crackdown trying to suppress the dissent. Iran for months has not offered any overall casualty figures, while acknowledging tens of thousands had been detained.