Elaheh Mohammadi (left) and Niloofar Hamedi (right) upon their release from Evin Prison in northern Tehran, January 14, 2024
On Sunday, January 14, Persian-language accounts on social network X (formerly Twitter) mentioned “imminent good news,” without providing further details. Finally, around 4 p.m. Tehran time, two Iranian journalists, Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, were released on bail after spending more than a year in detention. The two young women were arrested in September 2022 for journalistically reporting on the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini, who died on September 16, 2022 after being detained for being “poorly covered” by her veil.
The death of this Iranian woman of Kurdish origin triggered a violent wave of protests in Iran that lasted four months and spread to every corner of the country. At least five hundred civilians were killed in these demonstrations and eight people associated with the protests were executed by the judiciary. Tens of thousands of Iranians were arrested, some of whom received long prison sentences.
In the first instance, in October 2023, Elaheh Mohammadi was sentenced to six years in prison and Niloofar Hamedi to seven years in prison. The two journalists were convicted of “collusion with the American enemy state,” “gatherings and collusion with the aim of undermining the country’s security,” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” They denied these allegations and claimed that they were simply fulfilling their journalistic mission. They were released on bail of 10 billion tomans (or 160,000 euros) while awaiting their appeal.
Harassment of women by the regime
When the two journalists were released from the notorious Evin prison in northern Tehran, they were greeted by a crowd of family and friends. In some videos and photos released after their release, the two young women make a “V” with their hands and do not wear headscarves as a sign of victory – a gesture in solidarity with Iranian women who have refused to do so since the death of Mahsa Amini To subject women to a law requiring women to cover their entire bodies except their faces and hands.
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In September 2022, Niloofar Hamedi was arrested for visiting the Kasra Hospital in Tehran, where Mahsa Amini was hospitalized, for the Iranian daily Shargh. Elaheh Mohammadi, a journalist with the daily Hammihan, traveled to Saqqez, the hometown of the deceased, to cover her funeral. She was arrested a week after her colleague. The two played a key role in publicizing the circumstances of Mahsa Amini's death, giving a voice to her family who continued to denounce the authorities' responsibility for this tragedy while highlighting the young Iranian woman's medical history.
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