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Source: RFE/RL

Jan 15, 2024

Iran Files New Charges Against Two Journalists After Their Release

Two Iranian journalists face new charges for flouting Iran's hijab law after they published photographs on social media without wearing head scarves just hours after being temporarily released from prison, where they were serving lengthy sentences for their coverage of the death of Mahsa Amini.

Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi face new indictments, according to the Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with Iran's judiciary, in the case filed in Tehran's Revolutionary Court on January 15.

Mohammadi and Hamedi's case highlights the continued battle Tehran's conservative clerics are fighting to strictly enforce the hijab laws in the face of mass discontent over the policy.

The hijab, or Islamic head scarf, became compulsory for women and girls over the age of 9 in 1981, two years after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The move immediately triggered protests that were swiftly crushed by the newly installed authorities.

Many women have flouted the rule over the years and pushed the boundaries of what officials say is acceptable clothing.

Hamedi and Mohammadi were sentenced to 13 and 12 years, respectively for their coverage of the death of Amini, a 22 year old who died while in police custody for an alleged hijab infraction.

The two were granted “temporary release” from Tehran’s Evin Prison on bail on January 14 pending an appeal of their sentences.

Ali Alqasimehr, the head of Tehran's judiciary, said the decision to grant temporary release to the journalists was taken due to the protracted nature of the investigation and the appellate process.

The pair were initially arrested last year.Their case has attracted widespread support in Iran and abroad. Chess Grandmaster Sara Khadem voiced her support for the pair while praising their courage and called them "real champions."

Hamedi was charged because she took a photo of Amini's parents embracing in the Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma after she had been taken into police custody for an alleged head-scarf violation.

Her post of the photo on Twitter was the first media mention of the case and one of her last posts before being arrested days later.

Mohammadi covered Amini's funeral in her hometown of Saghez, which marked the beginning of mass protests that swept the country following the 22-year-old's death in September 2022.

Those protests were met by a brutal crackdown as they grew into one of the biggest challenges faced by the Islamist government since Iran's 1979 revolution.

The European Parliament awarded the 2023 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Amini and the Women, Life, Freedom movement that was sparked by her death.

Iranian authorities prevented Amini’s parents and brother from traveling abroad in December 2023 to receive the prize.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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