Washington, D.C., February 6, 2023 – Iranian authorities must drop any charges against journalist Elnaz Mohammadi and release her immediately and unconditionally, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On February 5, authorities arrested Mohammadi, head of the social issues desk at the state-run Hammihan newspaper, after she responded to a summons to answer questions at a court in Tehran’s Evin Prison, according to news reports.
Mohammadi is the twin sister of Elahe Mohammadi, who covers politics and human rights issues for Hammihan and was among the first journalists who reported the September 16 death in morality-police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, which sparked mass protests across the country. Elahe Mohammadi has been imprisoned for her work since September 22, 2022.
Elnaz Mohammadi also covered the fallout from Amini’s death in her work at Hammihan, which CPJ reviewed. CPJ was unable to immediately determine where Elnaz Mohammadi is being held or whether any charges have been filed against her.
“Iranian authorities must immediately release Elnaz Mohammadi, her sister Elahe, and all other journalists arrested over their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death and the ensuing protests,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must let members of the press do their work without fear that they will be summoned and detained.”
In an October 28 statement, Iranian authorities accused two reporters identified by their initials, which matched the names of Elahe Mohammadi and jailed journalist Niloofar Hamedi, of being spies for the CIA and being the “primary sources of news for foreign media.” Hamedi and Mohammadi face the death penalty if charged and convicted of espionage.
CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations for comment but did not receive any response.
[Editors’ note: This article has been changed in its second paragraph to correct the date that Mohammadi was arrested.]