On September 21, Iranian demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. (AFP)

#MahsaAmini: Iranian security forces step up arrests of journalists as anti-state protests spread

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In Iran, at least 11 journalists were taken into custody this week as clashes between security forces and protesters have left many dead, CPJ has learned from reliable sources inside Iran. Details of those arrested are sparse amid a near-total internet blackout and reports of major disruptions to phone networks and social media networks.

The protests began over the Friday death in morality-police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly violating the country’s conservative dress law.

Those arrested include photojournalist Yalda Moaiery on Monday, and reporter Niloofar Hamedi on Wednesday. Watch CPJ’s video on the arrests and the current situation in Iran here.

“Iranian authorities must immediately release all journalists arrested because of their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death and the protests that have followed,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Iranian security forces must drop their repressive measures against the journalists telling this critical story and restore the internet access that is vital to keep the public informed.”

Global press freedom updates

  • Russia to block, fine news outlets for ‘false’ reports on military call-up; authorities revoke Novaya Gazeta’s online media license
  • Gunmen threaten Mexican reporter Rodrigo Bustillos in Tehuacán
  • ‘An open-air prison’: Kashmiri journalists on how travel bans undermine press freedom
  • Protesters attack freelance video journalist Lorena Sopena in Barcelona
  • Ethiopian journalist Abay Zewdu remains detained after court grants bail
  • Somaliland’s ministry of information imposes indefinite ban on CBA TV
  • DRC journalist Tatiana Osango sexually assaulted, two other journalists attacked by police in separate incident
  • Armed men in military uniforms beat, threaten lives of Congolese journalists Parfait Katoto and Picard Luhavo. Separately in the country, armed men in military uniforms raid broadcaster, beat technician, and seize equipment, forcing radio station off air
  • South African journalist Karyn Maughan criminally charged over report on former President Zuma
  • Two Zimbabwean journalists denied entry to political rally, one attacked by security agent
  • Kyrgyzstan TV director Taalaibek Duishenbiev convicted of incitement
  • Bangladesh authorities arrest siblings of UK-based journalists
  • Turkish journalist Hatice Şahin sentenced to more than six years in prison on terrorism charge
  • Myanmar sentences former BBC Media Action reporter to three years in prison
  • Vietnam sentences blogger Le Anh Hung to five years in prison
  • CPJ calls on President Berdimuhamedov to lift restrictions on Turkmenistan’s press, release journalist Nurgeldi Halykov
  • CPJ calls on Hong Kong authorities to drop all charges against Ronson Chan, head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association
  • Turkmen authorities should immediately release unjustly imprisoned reporter
  • European Federation of Journalists welcomes European Media Freedom Act but calls for strengthening


Barrister Amal Clooney and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa in conversation with CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg on September 21. (CPJ)

On Wednesday evening, CPJ hosted journalist and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and barrister Amal Clooney for a conversation with CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg, attended by staff and friends of CPJ. Ressa and Clooney are both past recipients of CPJ’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.

Ressa, the co-founder of Rappler news website, described the numerous trumped-up charges filed against her in the Philippines as “death by a thousand cuts,” and talked about the legal harassment she is facing from the authorities. “In some cases, you don’t have to kill journalists” to silence them, she said. Dealing with legal cases fills most of Ressa’s time, taking her away from journalism. “I spent 90% of my time with lawyers versus spending my time on journalism.”

Clooney concluded her remarks by urging Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to pardon Ressa and the prosecutors to drop the charges.

Check out more photos from the event here.

In the closing hearing of the People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists in The Hague on September 19, the Tribunal pronounced the governments of Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Syria guilty of all human rights violations brought against them in their May 2022 indictments.

In over eight out of 10 cases where a journalist has been targeted for murder, their killers go free. CPJ, Free Press Unlimited, and Reporters Without Borders created the Tribunal to hold states accountable for their failure to protect journalists and to investigate crimes against the press. The Tribunal is part of A Safer World for the Truth initiative. Watch the full closing hearing here.

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