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The Shargh Daily newspaper is seen in Tehran on July 10, 2019. A political columnist at the paper and another local journalist were recently sentenced to jailtime on propaganda charges. (Reuters/Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency)

Iranian court sentences 2 journalists to jail on propaganda charges

November 12, 2019 3:34 PM ET

In October 2019, the Tehran Appeals Court sentenced Pouria Alami, a political columnist and satirist with the reformist Shargh Daily, to one year in prison and Tahereh Riahi, the former social affairs editor of the government-funded Borna News Agency, to two and a half years in prison, according to news reports and a person close to Riahi, who spoke with CPJ.

The court sent a notice to Alami informing him of his sentence on October 12, the journalist wrote in a column published in Shargh Daily and on Instagram. In that column, Alami announced his resignation from the newspaper to protect the outlet from government retaliation.

Alami’s sentence stemmed a mass arrest of journalists by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in 2012, in which fifteen journalists from various outlets were arrested, according to a report by U.K.-based broadcaster Iran International. Authorities detained Alami before releasing him on bail in March 2012, and charged him with “spreading propaganda against the system,” according to that report. He was given a five-year suspended prison sentence with a two-year ban on leaving the country, and on October 12, 2019, was notified that the sentence had been changed to a one-year jail term, according to that report.

On October 13, Shargh Daily editor-in-chief Mehdi Rahmanian tweeted that Alami had not yet been imprisoned and said he hoped that the sentence would be commuted on judicial review. Alami’s lawyer, Kaveh Rezvanirad, told government-run website Ensaf News on November 3 that he was hopeful that a judicial review could spare Alami from serving jail time. As of November 12, Alami had not been jailed, according to his posts on social media.

In late October, the Tehran Appeals Court sentenced Riahi to 30 months in prison, a two-year ban on leaving the country, and a two-year ban on working in media, according to a person close to the journalist who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

Riahi was also charged with spreading propaganda following a 2016 arrest, according to Iran-focused press freedom group Journalism Is Not A Crime. She had been free on bail since June 24, 2017, according to the group.

As of November 3, Riahi had not been summoned to prison, the person said. CPJ contacted the person again on November 12 to inquire about Riahi’s status but did not receive any response.

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