RSF denounces sham trials of journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi in Iran
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the sham trials to which Iran is about to subject two women journalists who have been held since September 2022 for being among the first to draw the public’s attention to Kurdish student Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody. They should be freed at once instead of facing possible death sentences, RSF says.
The Iranian judicial authority has confirmed that the trials of Shargh newspaper reporter Niloofar Hamedi and Ham Mihan newspaper reporter Elaheh Mohammad are to begin on 29 and 30 May respectively. Held for the past eight months, they are to be tried on charges of “conspiracy and rebellion against national security” and “anti-state propaganda” – charges carrying a possible death penalty.
Just days ahead of the start of their trials, neither of the two journalists had been given access to the prosecution case file, their families said, contradicting the judicial authority spokesman’s claim. Hamedi’s husband also reported in a tweet that, “less than a week” before their trials, neither had been allowed to speak to their lawyer in order to prepare their defence.
“The fact that Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi were unable to see their lawyers, even a few days before their trials, confirms that this is travesty of justice whose sole aim is to legitimise the persecution of these two journalists. We demand their immediate release."
Hamedi and Mohammadi have become symbols of the Iranian protest movement popularised throughout the world under the slogan of “Woman-Life-Freedom.” On 2 May, they were awarded the prestigious 2023 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize along with Iranian journalist and activist Narges Mohammadi, who is also imprisoned. Time magazine included the two reporters in its list of the 100 most influential people in 2023.
Three days after the morality police arrested Mahsa Amini on 13 September 2022 because hair was protruding from beneath her hijab, Hamedi managed to visit her while she was still alive but in a coma in Tehran’s Kasra hospital, and thereby break the news of her hospitalisation in a serious condition while in police custody. Hamedi was arrested on 20 September.
Elaheh Mohammadi took a taxi to cover Amini’s funeral on 17 September in her hometown, Saqez, a city in northwestern Iran’s Kurdistan Province that became the starting point of the ensuing protests. She was arrested on 29 September. It was only on 17 April, nearly seven months later, that the families and lawyers of the two journalists learned of the charges brought against them