The United States condemns the prison sentences meted out to Iranian journalists Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi. Arrested in September 2022 after reporting on events surrounding the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the two journalists have already spent more than a year in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Amini’s death sparked prolonged nation-wide protests, presenting the greatest threat to the regime since it came to power in 1979.
Both journalists were charged with the crimes of spreading propaganda against the system, acting against national security, and collaborating with the United States. Hamedi had broken the news of Amini’s grave condition after the young Kurdish-Iranian woman was arrested in Tehran for improperly wearing her hijab. Mohammadi had reported on Amini’s funeral and the thousands of people who attended it.
The trials for the two were held behind closed doors in July. On October 22, their sentences were announced by Iran’s judiciary: Mohammadi to six years in prison, Hamedi to seven years. In addition, the judiciary’s online website said each was also given concurrent sentences of five years for conspiring against state security and one year for propaganda against the Islamic Republic.
The long prison terms have caused outrage. U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley wrote on the platform X, “Niloufar and Elaheh should never have been jailed, and we condemn their sentences. The Iranian regime jails journalists because it fears the truth.” Yes, as the Iranian regime’s dubious distinction as one of the world’s worst jailer of journalists shows.
News of the prison sentences for Mohammadi and Hamedi’s reporting on the appalling fate of Mahsa Amini for wearing her veil too loosely also comes against a terrible backdrop: reports that another young woman, 16-year-old Armita Geravand, is now “brain dead” in a hospital after an alleged encounter in Tehran with police over appearing in the subway without a hijab.
Deputy Special Envoy Paley wrote on X about her case as well: “Shocked and concerned about reports that Iran’s so-called morality police have assaulted 16-year-old Armita Geravand. We are following news of her condition. We continue to stand with the brave people of Iran and work with the world to hold the regime accountable for its abuses.”