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Iran releases two journalists that reported on Mahsa Amini

Iran releases two journalists who reported on death of Mahsa Amini, sparking protests
2 min read
The protests that were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini were the largest since the 2009 Green Movement, presenting major challenges to the Iranian regime.
Niloufar Hamedia and Elaheh Mohammadi were released from prison on bail on Sunday [Photo by SAHAND TAKI/Sharq news online/AFP via Getty Images]

Two Iranian journalists who were serving long prison sentences over their coverage of the death of Mahsa Amini have been released on bail pending their appeal, Iranian media reported Sunday.

Niloufar Hamedia, who broke the news of Amini's death while in police custody for wearing her headscarf too loose, and Elaheh Mohammadi, who wrote about Amini's funeral, were sentenced to seven and six years in prison, respectively, in October, on charges including collaborating with the US government.

The two women had been in prison for 17 months. The semi-official ISNA news agency reported that they were each released on $200,000 bail and they are banned from leaving the country until the appeal is heard.

The Tehran Revolutionary Court had charged the journalists with collaborating with the American government, colluding against national security and propaganda against the system, according to the news website, affiliated with the country's judiciary.

Hamedi worked for the reformist newspaper Shargh, while Mohammadi worked for Ham-Mihan, also a reformist paper. They were detained in September 2022.

In May 2023, the United Nations awarded the journalists its premier prize for press freedom for their commitment to truth and accountability.

Amini's death touched off months-long protests in dozens of cities across Iran. The demonstrations posed one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement protests drew millions to the streets.

Although nearly 100 journalists were arrested during the demonstrations, Hamedi's and Mohammadi's reporting was crucial in the days after Amini's death in spreading the word. Their detentions sparked international criticism.

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Since the protests began, at least 529 people have been killed by security forces during demonstrations, according to human rights activists in Iran. Over 19,700 others have been detained by authorities amid a violent crackdown trying to suppress the dissent. Iran for months has not offered any overall casualty figures, while acknowledging tens of thousands were detained.