Iran: three months after their appeals trial, Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi are still under threat of re-imprisonment

Three months have passed since Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi’s appeals trials and their subsequent release from prison on bail. Yet, they still await a decision on their appeal. Reporters without borders (RSF) calls on the Iranian authorities to acquit the journalists of all charges as soon as possible and allow them to work freely. 

After spending more than a year in detention, Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi were released on bail of 10 bn tomans (around 200,000 euros) on 14 January, two days after their appeals trials, but their freedom remains far from assured. Initially, conflicting accounts had surfaced regarding the reasons for these liberations, but Iran’s judiciary later clarified, via its press agency, that the release was temporary pending their appeal decision.

Both journalists have been awaiting, for three months, for the court to issue that decision, with no set date in sight. With their previous harsh prison sentences of six and seven years hanging over their heads, the threat of potential re-imprisonment haunts Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi. It is the price they have been paying since September 2022, for having done their jobs of informing the public. 

"The judicial limbo that Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi find themselves in is deeply concerning. True freedom remains elusive until the Iranian justice system lifts the looming threat of their re-imprisonment and acquits them of their sentences. RSF calls upon the Iranian government to revert the sentences of the two journalists and allow them to return to their lives and their work in complete safety and peace of mind.

Jonathan Dagher
Head of Middle East desk

While Hamedi has resumed her work at the Shargh Daily newspaper, Mohammadi has refrained from journalism activities for the time being. The risk of potential reincarceration weighs heavily on the well-being of the two journalists, according to sources in the country, forcing them to self-censor, for fear of being handed even more incriminating charges. The two journalists are already facing new accusations, according to the state controlled Mizan news agency, for not wearing their hijab upon their release from prison, RSF had reported in January.

In 2022, they were the first journalists to report on the death of the young Kurdish student Mahsa Amini in police custody. Security forces subsequently arrested them on 21 September and 29 September, 2022. They were sentenced to 12 and 13 years respectively in prison in 2023 for charges including “spreading propaganda”, “committing crimes against national security”, and “collaborating with a foreign state”, but, under Iran’s Islamic penal code, they must serve only the longest of the three sentences, the six-year one for Mohammadi and the seven-year one for Hamedi.

Since the beginning of the Woman, Life, Freedom protest movement in 2022, 87 journalists were detained, of whom 11 remain in prison to this day.

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