Iran is one of the world’s ten worst countries for press freedom, according to RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, and it remains one of the most repressive ones for journalists.
As the country’s media is largely controlled by the Islamic regime, the main sources of news and information come from media outlets that are based abroad. Journalists and independent media in Iran are constantly persecuted by means of arbitrary arrests and very heavy sentences handed down after grossly unfair trials before revolutionary courts.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei often accuses the independent media of being manipulated by foreign forces. As the head of the country's main political, military and judicial institutions, he can order the arrests of journalists and sentence them to long prison terms, and even the death penalty.
Article 24 of the constitution guarantees press freedom, but the 1986 press law (amended in 2000 and 2009 to take account of online publications) allows the authorities to ensure that journalists do not “endanger the Islamic Republic”, “do not offend the clergy and the Supreme Leader” and do not “spread false information”.
The target of unprecedented sanctions and plagued by corruption, Iran is in an alarming economic situation that has had a major impact on the media and journalists. Several media outlets have been closed in recent years and around 100 journalists have lost their jobs.
Iranian civil society is dynamic and progressive, thanks, among other things, to the country’s youth and women, who demand more freedom and respect for fundamental rights, including the freedom to be informed. However, tackling subjects related to religion and women’s rights continues to be problematic.
At least 1,000 journalists and citizen-journalists have been arrested, detained, murdered, disappeared or executed by the Iranian regime since 1979. This crackdown on press freedom is not confined to Iran’s borders. Iranian journalists working for international media are also subjected to a great deal of harassment.