Iranian American journalist Negar Mortazavi speaks during a panel discussion on October 18, 2022, at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, that was moved to a virtual format due to bomb threats. (Screenshot: University of Chicago's Institute of Politics/YouTube)

CPJ condemns harassment, bomb threat against Iranian American journalist Negar Mortazavi

New York, October 20, 2022 — In response to news reports that the University of Chicago received an anonymous bomb threat on Tuesday for hosting an event featuring Iranian American journalist Negar Mortazavi, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:   

“The bomb threat against journalist Negar Mortazavi was a crude attempt at censorship. Unfortunately, this event is just one example of the onslaught of threats and harassment that Mortazavi and other Iranian journalists face for simply doing their jobs–and these threats must stop,” said Katherine Jacobsen, CPJ’s U.S. and Canada program coordinator. “U.S. authorities should investigate the recent threats against Mortazavi and ensure that all journalists working in the country, regardless of their nationality or the origin of the threats, can do their jobs without fear of retaliation.”

The panel discussion, titled “Taking it to the Streets: The Power of Iranian Women Now,” was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics on the university’s campus to discuss the context of the ongoing protests in Iran, according to those reports.

Ahead of the event, the institute received phone calls and emails that falsely accused Mortazavi of having connections to the Iranian government, and on Tuesday, the event was moved online, the reports stated.

Protests in Iran began in mid-September following the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, after morality police arrested her for allegedly violating the country’s conservative dress law. Authorities have arrested at least 41 journalists in Iran in relation to their coverage of the demonstrations, as CPJ has documented.

Human rights groups have reported that women journalists from the Iranian diaspora have frequently been targeted in online harassment campaigns.