10 June 2023 :
(Jun 7, 2023) - IPI and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemn trials of journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi
In a tweet Tuesday, RSF said banning the lawyers of the two journalists from speaking at their hearings was “further proof of the judicial farce against the two journalists.”
Hamedi, managed to visit Mahsa Amini in Tehran’s Kasra hospital and broke the news of her grave condition after being taken into the custody of the morality police three days earlier for wearing her hijab “improperly”. Amini was in a coma at the time.
Mohammadi, likewise, managed to travel to Amini’s hometown of Saqqez in western Iran to report on her funeral, September 17, which thousands attended.
The lawyers for Niloofar Hamedi, a reporter of the reformist Shargh daily, and Elahe Mohammadi, of the reformist Ham-Mihan newspaper, were banned from speaking at the 1st hearings.,” RSF tweeted Tuesday.
The IPI global network strongly condemns the closed-door trials of Hamedi and Mohammadi. Authorities must immediately drop charges against these journalists as well as all imprisoned journalists in Iran.
The killing of 22-year-old Amini while in the custody of the country’s morality police triggered a wave of anti-government protests, marking one of the biggest challenges to the Iranian regime since 2009.
Authorities responded with a major crackdown on the media, arresting scores of journalists and banning international news outlets from entering the country. At least 95 journalists have been arrested since the start of the protests, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The first session of Mohammadi’s trial presided by the notorious judge Abolghasem Salavati was held behind closed doors at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on June 5. Hamedi’s hearing was held on Tuesday by the same judge and in the same manner. Lawyers of the two journalists were not allowed to speak.
Hamedi’s husband, Mohammad-Hossein Ajorlou who is a sports journalist himself, in a series of tweets Tuesday confirmed that Hamedi’s lawyer had not been given an opportunity to speak and said family members, including himself, were not allowed in the courtroom. According to Ajorlou’s tweet the date for the next hearing has not been set.
The Telegram channel of the ultrahardliner Raja News claimed that “anti-Iranian media” are trying to “reduce” the arrest of the two journalists to their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death.
“But reliable information indicates that Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi had participated in training courses of institutions that seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and had connections with foreign intelligence services,” Raja News which is affiliated to the ultraconservative Paydari Front wrote.
In October, Iran's intelligence ministry and SAS, the intelligence organization of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) accused Mohammadi and Hamedi of being CIA agents. “Using the cover of a journalist, she was one of the first people who arrived at the hospital and provoked the relatives of the deceased and published targeted news,” they said in a joint statement.
Hamedi and Mohammadi were arrested on September 22 and 29, 2022, respectively.
Hamedi published photos of Amini and her parents in the hospital where she died. Mohammadi, a reporter for the pro-reform Hammihan newspaper, covered Amini’s funeral. Hamedi and Mohammadi were arrested separately a few days later, and have been held in Evin prison since then.
Both face charges of “colluding with hostile powers” — a charge which could carry the death penalty if they are found guilty. The trials are being held completely behind closed doors, and lawyers for the two journalists were not told of the court date or allowed to confer with their clients, Hamedi’s husband, Mohammad Hossein Ajorlou, said on Twitter.
According to reports, the lawyers for the journalists were also prevented from expressing anything or defending the journalists throughout the trial, according to Mohammadi’s lawyer, Shahab Mirlohi.
“The IPI global network stands in solidarity with Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, and all journalists in Iran who are being harassed, intimidated, jailed, and persecuted for simply doing their jobs”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “The closed-door trials of these two journalists is a mockery of justice, and yet more proof that the regime has lost all legitimacy with the public.”