Two jailed female Iranian journalists, who helped break the story of the case of a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody last September, have gone on trial in Iran.
Elaheh Mohammadi, with the Ham Mihan newspaper, published a story about Mahsa Amini's funeral. Her trial began Monday behind closed doors in a Revolutionary Court.
Her lawyer, Shahab Mirlohi, told Ham Mihan that despite attending the hearing on Monday, there was a one-hour delay, and the lawyers were not given a chance to defend or express anything throughout the entire session.
Mirlohi said the case should be heard in a competent criminal court with a jury present and in a public setting. He said he believes that the Revolutionary Court lacks the jurisdiction necessary to hear this case, which primarily concerns press activities and opinions expressed by Mohammadi.
Also facing trial in Iran is Niloufar Hamedi, of the Sharq newspaper, who was the first to report on the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police. The death of Amini, who was accused of wearing her headscarf too loosely, sparked nationwide anti-government protests. Hamedi’s trial began Tuesday, also behind closed doors.
Iranian officials say the two journalists had been indicted on charges of collaborating with the United States, acting against national security, and creating "propaganda against the system."
Last week, a U.S. State Department spokesman rejected allegations the journalists had been collaborating with the United States.
“So, I will say with respect to that specific question, we reject those charges. They are obviously not true. And I will note that over the course of the protests, Iranian authorities have repeatedly violated Iranians’ human rights, punished them for executing their essential freedoms,” spokesman Matthew Miller said at a press briefing, in response to a question from VOA. “Sham trials and executions have been key components of the regime’s attempt to suppress any form of dissent.”
On May 3, the two reporters and the imprisoned Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi were awarded the 2023 Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize by the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO.
Hamedi and Mohammadi were also joint winners of the 2023 International Press Freedom Award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and Harvard University’s 2023 Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. They were named two of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2023.
According to the World Press Freedom Index 2023 issued by Reporters Without Borders on May 3 to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, Iran is considered one of the world's worst countries for press freedom. It has been listed at No. 177 out of 180 nations ranked in worldwide assessments of press freedoms followed by Vietnam, China, and North Korea.