Zahra Tohidi

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Iranian journalist Zahra Tohidi is serving a one-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, on anti-state charges, over her coverage of anti-state protests in September 2022. 

Tohidi is a freelance reporter covering politics and human rights for Iranian news websites and newspapers including Magiran, a semi-independent investigative news website. She also writes commentary pieces on Iranian politics.

The sisters’ legal trouble began when they were arrested alongside Tohidi’s husband Alireza Khoshbakht, also a journalist, from their family home in Tehran on September 20, 2022, according to multiple sources who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal. 

Tohidi had covered the story of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died in morality police custody, and the anti-state nationwide protests that followed her death on X. Her account appears to have been deleted after her arrest.

Tohidi and her sister were released on bail on December 17, 2022 and in January 2023 they were tried by Judge Iman Afshari at Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for “spreading propaganda against the system” and “colluding against the national security.” They were sentenced to one year in prison each, which was upheld on appeal, but were not taken into custody again until May. Khoshbakht is no longer in custody as of December 1, 2023, the date of CPJ’s prison census. 

Authorities are known to have detained at least 95 journalists in the wake of nationwide protests following Amini’s death. The majority have been released on bail and are in the process of being charged and sentenced.

CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in late 2023 for comment on the cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists but received no response.