Iran frees reporters who covered death of Mahsa Amini sparking nationwide protests

They are banned from travelling abroad

By AFP

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Photo: Niloufar Hamedi (R) and Elaheh Mohammadi (L) (AFP)
Photo: Niloufar Hamedi (R) and Elaheh Mohammadi (L) (AFP)

Published: Sun 14 Jan 2024, 6:57 PM

Iranian authorities on Sunday freed two journalists who spent more than a year behind bars for covering the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked months-long nationwide protests, local media said.

Niloufar Hamedi, 31, and Elaheh Mohammadi, 36, were "released from Evin prison on bail," according to the reformist Shargh newspaper. Other outlets in Iran also reported their release.

Tasnim news agency said that each "will pay a bail of 100 billion rials ($192,307)."

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The journalists are appealing their sentences of several years in prison, and Tasnim said they "will remain out of jail until the appeals court makes a decision."

They are also banned from travel abroad, it said.

Images of the two journalists smiling and holding hands outside the prison circulated on social media following their release.

Mohammadi, a reporter for Ham Mihan newspaper, and Hamedi, a photographer for Shargh newspaper, had been held in Tehran's Evin prison following Amini's death in September 2022.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, had been arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women. She died in custody of the morality policy.

Hamedi was arrested less than a week after Amini's death when she went to the hospital where Amini was being treated and posted a photo of the grieving family on social media.

Mohammadi was detained after going to Amini's hometown of Saqez, in the western Iranian province of Kurdistan, to cover her funeral which turned into a demonstration.

In October, the judiciary's Mizan Online website said they were found guilty of collaboration with Iran's arch enemy the United States, conspiring against state security and propaganda against the Islamic republic.

Mohammadi was subsequently given six years in prison and Hamedi was handed a seven-year term for the same offence, said Mizan.

The two also received five-year sentences each for the conspiracy charges and one each for propaganda, the website said, adding the sentences would be served concurrently.

In August, Iranian media reported that authorities had questioned or arrested more than 90 journalists since the protests triggered by Amini's death in different cities erupted across the country.

Hundreds of people, including dozens of security personnel, were killed in the protests and thousands of demonstrators were arrested, accused by the authorities of taking part in "riots" fomented by the West.

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