Iran: Government accuses two journalists who covered Amini's death of working with 'CIA, M16 and Saudis'

Iran: Government accuses two journalists who covered Amini's death of working with 'CIA, M16 and Saudis'
Iranian authorities have accused two imprisoned female journalists who broke the story of Masha Amini's death of working with foreign intelligence agencies.
3 min read
29 October, 2022
The two accused journalists helped break the story of the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody [source: Getty]

Iranian authorities have accused two female journalists who covered the story of Mahsa Amini’s death in custody of colluding with the CIA, MI6, Mossad and Saudi intelligence agencies. 

Niloofar Hamedi, who took pictures of Amini’s family in the hospital after the 22-year-old died, and Elahe Mohammadi, who covered her funeral where women took off their hijabs, have been detained by Iranian authorities for weeks, with some reports saying that they are held in solidarity confinement. 

This week, Iranian TV broadcast a statement from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accusing the two journalists of working with foreign intelligence agencies as anti-government protests sparked by Amini’s death continue to erupt across the country. 

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"As farcical as the allegations against these two brave journalists are, the risks [they] face are incredibly serious," said journalist Jason Rezaian on Twitter.

The Iranian-American journalist was detained by Iranian authorities in 2014 on espionage charges and for "collaborating with hostile governments". Held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Rezaian was released in 2016. 

"Both have been held incommunicado for more than a month, likely in solitary confinement and facing the sorts of pressure and treatment that no one should ever be subjected to," he added.  

Hamedi, a reporter specialising in women’s rights, took photographs of Amini’s grieving parents that went viral.

22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested in a metro station in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. Soon after she arrived at a downtown police station, Amini was rushed to a hospital and later died with widespread reports that she was beaten in custody.

Iranians were outraged by what they saw as a senseless loss of life and a culture of impunity within the country's "morality police". 

Mohammadi attended Amini’s funeral in Saqqez, where mourners took off their hijabs and vowed to turn the 22-year-old into a symbol of resistance. 

Demonstrations have taken place in at least 80 Iranian towns and cities over the last five weeks. Demands for accountability over Amini’s death have morphed into a wider challenge against the Islamic Republic. 

Over 40 journalists have been detained by authorities amid the protests. 

It is common for Iran to accuse government opponents and protesters of conspiring with foreign forces, especially the US and UK. 

However, the accusations tying the two journalists to Saudi Arabia are less common.

Over the past year, relations between the two nations have thawed amid a series of talks between high-level officials.

Yet, last week, a top Iranian military official warned Riyadh to end any "involvement" in the demonstrations, saying "it is better to be careful".