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A picture taken on September 26, 2018, shows the front pages of Iranian newspapers at a newspaper stand in the capital Tehran. Iran jailed a journalist for six years over his critical writing on December 25, 2018. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iran jails journalist for six years over critical writing

January 14, 2019 3:58 PM ET

Washington D.C., January 14, 2019--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the harsh sentence imposed on journalist Hamed Aynehvand and called on Iran to stop persecuting the media for doing their job.

On December 25, Aynehvand's lawyer, Hossein Bayat, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that the journalist was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh of Branch 28 of Tehran's Revolutionary Court on charges of "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security." His lawyer said he will appeal the sentence.

Political writing that Aynehvand published in several media outlets in Iran, including the government-owned daily newspaper Iran, and news websites based abroad such as Gooya, Zeitoon, Iran Global, were used as evidence against him by the judge, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), which cited a friend of the journalist who requested anonymity.

CHRI, citing the friend, reported that the journalist was denied a lawyer of his choosing by the judiciary and the Revolutionary Court, and that he was tried and convicted without the presence of his lawyer.

"Hamed Aynehvand's sham trial and harsh sentence demonstrate the flawed nature of the Iranian justice system," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour from New York. "We call on the authorities not to contest his upcoming appeal."

Agents of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' intelligence unit arrested Aynehvand on June 28, 2018, as he was leaving the National Library in Tehran and kept him in solitary confinement at Evin prison for a month and a half, CHRI's report said. As of January 14, CPJ was not able to obtain updated information about his location or his health status.

Eight journalists were found to be imprisoned in Iran in direct relation to their work at the time of CPJ's December 2018 prison census. Aynehvand was not included on the 2018 prison census because CPJ was not aware of his case at the time.

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