Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest to mark 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, which sparked Iran's biggest antigovernment movement in over a decade, in Tehran on October 26, 2022. CPJ renewed its call for Iran to release all journalists behind bars in the country, at least 37 of whom were detained over the past six weeks of anti-government protests. (AP Photo)

CPJ renews call for Iran to release all jailed journalists amid anti-government protests

New York, November 1, 2022 – The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday renewed its call for Iran to release all journalists behind bars in the country, at least 37 of whom were detained over the past six weeks of anti-government protests, and urged the U.N. Security Council to hold Iran accountable by implementing investigation mechanisms to document alleged human rights abuses by the Iranian government.

Iran has arrested at least 51 journalists since the start of protests 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; CPJ has documented the release on bail of 14 of those journalists.

“Iranian authorities should free all detained journalists immediately and unconditionally,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg. “Iranian authorities are trying to silence a critical moment in the country’s history, and in the process have made Iran among the world’s top jailers of journalists in an astonishingly short time.”

In an October 28 statement, Iranian authorities accused two detained female journalists, Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who helped break the story of Amini’s death of being spies for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and of being the “primary sources of news for foreign media.”

The Journalist Association of Iran issued a response October 29, “What they (Iranian authorities) referred to as evidence for their charges is the exact definition of journalists’ professional duty.” 

Hamedi and Mohammadi face the death penalty if formally charged and convicted of espionage. Iranian authorities have held Hamedi and Mohammadi in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since late September.