Washington, D.C., January 17, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Iran’s decision to grant bail to journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi while they await the outcome of appeals against their lengthy jail sentences, but calls on Iranian authorities to drop all charges and release all journalists still being held in connection with their work.
Hamedi and Mohammadi, sentenced to serve 13- and 12-years respectively on charges linked to their reporting, had spent almost 16 months behind bars after being among the first journalists to cover the 2022 hospitalization and subsequent death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who was in morality police custody for allegedly violating Iran’s conservative dress law.
“CPJ is relieved to see Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi reunited with their loved ones after such a long incarceration,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “But this is no cause for celebration. Being out on bail is not being free. Charges against them and the other journalists arrested for their coverage of the protests following Mahsa Amini’s death should be dropped and those still behind bars should be released immediately.”
Hamedi and Mohammadi each had to pay bail of 10 billion tomans – the equivalent of almost US$200,000 – an exceptionally high amount in a country where wages have been battered by inflation, currency devaluation, and international sanctions and where, according to CPJ sources, the average journalist earns less than the equivalent of $300 a month. The women have also been banned from leaving the country, according to Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA.
Iran has long ranked as one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists in CPJ’s annual prison census, which documents those behind bars as of December 1 on a given year. Overall, authorities are known to have detained at least 95 journalists in the wake of the nationwide protests after Amini died.