May 31, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Begins Trials of Two Female Journalists

May 31, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Begins Trials of Two Female Journalists

Latest Developments

An Iranian court this week began the trials of two female journalists whose work brought to light the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022, sparking nationwide anti-regime protests that persist today. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court accused both journalists of “collaborating with the hostile government of the United States” and “conspiring to commit crimes against national security and propagandistic activity against the system” in their coverage of Amini’s death. A conviction carries the death penalty. The regime has held both journalists in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for eight months.

The trial of Elaheh Mohammadi, a journalist for the pro-reform newspaper Hammihan who covered Amini’s funeral in the Kurdish town of Saqez in October, unfolded behind closed doors on May 29. The trial of the second female journalist, Niloofar Hamedi of the Sharq newspaper, began on May 30, also behind closed doors. Hamedi covered Amini’s death and published a photo of Amini’s parents mourning their daughter’s passing in a hospital hallway.

Expert Analysis

“The Islamist regime in Tehran has a long history of punishing journalists, whistleblowers, and victims of the crimes its security forces have committed. The courts convict victims based on trumped-up charges in show trials where the judge is a puppet controlled by the intelligence and security apparatus.” Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor

“The Islamic Republic’s injustice system continues to point the finger of blame everywhere but at itself for the tragic killing of Mahsa Amini and the subsequent nationwide protests. The detention for nearly eight months of enterprising Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi further proves that the Islamic Republic continues to see truth as the ultimate adversary.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

Mistreatment in Prison

Mohammadi’s lawyer has accused the regime of mistreating his client in jail, including keeping her in solitary confinement for long periods. Other female prisoners have accused the country’s prison staff of inhumane and illegal treatment, including sexual harassment and rape. Iran was ranked 177th out of 180 countries in the 2023 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, which called the country one of the world’s “biggest jailers of journalists.”

Deadly Crackdown on Protests

Anti-regime protests in Iran have persisted in Iran, although they are now less numerous than their peak in October 2022. According to an FDD tracker, there have been 221 protests in May across Iran. The regime’s brutal crackdown persists, with at least 21,189 demonstrators arrested and 624 killed in the streets, including 74 minors, over the course of 3,499 protests since September.

On May 19, the regime executed three Iranian men arrested at anti-government protests last year after a brief, closed-door trial devoid of due process. Iran is one of the world’s top executioners. Executions in Iran soared from 333 in 2021 to 582 in 2022. Tehran has formally executed at least 304 people this year to date in addition to the street protesters, according to the Oslo-based non-profit Iran Human Rights.

Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz

Chemical Attacks on Iranian Students,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad and Mark Dubowitz

Protests in Iran Persist Eight Months After Death of Mahsa Amini,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Human Rights