Iranian police guard the British embassy during a demonstration in Tehran on January 12, 2024. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iranian journalists face jail, raids, legal threats

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CPJ is closely monitoring what is becoming an epidemic of arrests and legal threats against journalists in Iran. In the last two months, we have documented over a dozen jailings, sentencings, lawsuits, and raids on journalists’ homes in the country.

These arrests show that “Iranian authorities are desperate to silence their critics,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, later adding, “This trend is resulting in the criminalization of all forms of journalism.”

And while we were relieved to see that Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi were granted bail while they await the outcome of appeals against their lengthy jail sentences, they are not yet free. Following a 16-month incarceration, they paid exceptionally high bails of 10 billion tomans—the equivalent of almost US$200,000—and have been banned from leaving the country.

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 in a given year. Overall, authorities are known to have detained at least 95 journalists in the wake of the nationwide protests following the death in morality-police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini.

Authorities must realize that jailing journalists and critical voices won’t help them hide Iran’s difficult realities and end this intimidation and harassment of Iranian journalists.

🏆 Separately this week, CPJ is proud to announce that we were awarded a bronze medal at the 2024 Anthem Awards for our series of four videos of our 2022 International Press Freedom Award honorees—Abraham Jiménez Enoa (Cuba), Niyaz Abdullah (Iraqi Kurdistan), Sevgil Musaieva (Ukraine), and Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam).

Pham Doan Trang is still imprisoned in Vietnam, serving a nine-year sentence after being convicted in a one-day trial in 2021. Join CPJ in our call to #FreeTrang on X by clicking here.

Global press freedom updates

  • Honduran journalist Luis Alonso Teruel shot, killed in Atima
  • Colombian journalist Mardonio Mejía Mendoza shot dead at home
  • As of February 1, CPJ has documented 85 journalists and media workers killed while covering the Israel-Gaza war.
  • At least 18 Bangladeshi journalists attacked, harassed during election coverage
  • In Guinea, journalists censored, expelled, arrested
  • Rwandan journalist Dieudonné Niyonsenga says he was beaten, detained in “hole” for three years
  • DRC journalist Blaise Mabala detained on insult charge; Stanis Bujakara Tshiamala remains jailed
  • CPJ calls for probe into attack on Ghana radio journalist David Kobbena at ruling NPP office
  • CPJ presents joint report on declining press freedom in Greece
  • Turkish journalist Sinan Aygül convicted for “insulting” men who beat him; attackers get suspended sentences
  • CPJ condemns acquittal of suspected organizer of 1992 murder of Polish journalist Jarosław Ziętara
  • CPJ condemns Russia’s detention extension for U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich
  • Belarusian court sentences photojournalist Aliaksandr Ziankou to three years on extremism charges
  • Canadian-Palestinian journalist disappears in Gaza; reports allege eyewitnesses saw IDF arrest


Sri Lankan journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda was last seen by his family and colleagues on January 24, 2010. (Photo: Ekneligoda family)

Sri Lankan journalist and government critic Prageeth Ekneligoda was last seen near Colombo, Sri Lanka, on January 24, 2010, two days before incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa was reelected. Fourteen years later, he is missing, but not forgotten.

Dozens of journalists were murdered, assaulted, and intimidated through Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency (2005-2015) while his brother, Gotabaya, served as defense secretary. Gotabaya—later president himself—has been accused of involvement in multiple attacks on journalists, including Prageeth’s disappearance. A 2015 police investigation found that a military intelligence unit abducted and most likely killed Prageeth.

➡️ In CPJ’s new feature, Prageeth’s wife, Sandya Ekneligoda, spoke with CPJ Asia Researcher Sonali Dhawan about her fight for justice for her husband and her concern that former government leaders are using their political connections to disrupt the prosecution of her husband’s case.

“I don’t know how long it will take, but I will get justice for my Prageeth,” she told CPJ.

Prageeth Ekneligoda’s case is the only ongoing prosecution regarding grave crimes against journalists in Sri Lanka, which local analysts say have never resulted in a conviction.

⚡️ Read more in CPJ’s new feature.

⚡️ And join our call for justice for all missing journalists globally — view our #MissingNotForgotten campaign.

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