Journalists Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi, accused of being foreign CIA agents during protests in Iran, finally have the first session of their trials this week

Trial begins for the two Iranian journalists arrested during protests over Amini's death


On 16 September 2022, mass protests broke out in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was confirmed. The young woman had been arrested three days earlier for breaching the Islamic dress code, specifically for improperly wearing the hijab or Islamic headscarf, an offence punishable by imprisonment, lashes or a fine. Amini was beaten by the police before being put in the van to be taken to the police station, according to witnesses. She suffered a cardiac arrest and was admitted to hospital where she remained in a coma for three days until her death.

The police authorities did not take responsibility for what happened, denying the witnessed assault and provoking the start of mobilisations in the Kurdish city of Saqez, which soon spread throughout the country. The government's brutal repression did not succeed in putting out the demonstrations as quickly as they had hoped, but women and girls resisted in the streets without fear, protesting against the regime through gestures such as the burning of scarves. Since December, Reporters Without Borders has been denouncing "the intensification of repression in Iran" which has led to the deaths of 500 people and the subjection of many women to torture, unfair trials, poisoning and forced disappearances, as confirmed by Amnesty International.

Protests in Iran

 The Committee to Protect Journalists reported the detention of hundreds of reporters and photographers during the protests, including Iranian journalists Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi, who have been held in Evin prison since September and whose trials were held on Monday and Tuesday respectively, according to the Iranian judiciary spokesman.

The reporter for the pro-reform newspaper Hammihan, Elaheh Mohammadi, covered Amini's funeral in Saqez, the young woman's hometown and where the demonstrations began. On 22 September, police entered the journalist's home to confiscate her mobile phone and computer and arrest her on charges related to her coverage. After more than 8 months in jail, the first hearing of the trial took place in section 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court which, according to the lawyer of the accused, Shahabeddin Mirlohi, went well and they are now waiting for the announcement of the date for the next session.

Shargh newspaper journalist Niloofar Hamedi was also arrested for publishing a picture of Amini in a coma and intubated in hospital, as well as a photograph of the girl's parents embracing in hospital after learning that their daughter had died, making the announcement public. Four days later, Hamedi was arrested by the police and has been in solitary confinement ever since, and her trial has begun.

Both were accused of being foreign CIA agents, but the charges were not brought until April, when they were charged with "collaboration with the hostile US government, collusion against national security and propaganda against the system", which is punishable by death under Islamic law. It was not until 24 hours before the trial that the journalists were able to meet with their lawyers, as Mohamed Hosein Ajorlou, Hamedi's husband, tweeted. He also claimed that the defendants and their families had not been informed in advance of the start of the sessions.

The trials will be held independently and behind closed doors, a move that does not provide sufficient legal guarantees and has been repeatedly denounced by groups and legal professionals. Many international and Iranian journalists' associations consider that the trial is being held behind closed doors because "if it were public, the truth would be revealed and it would not fit in with a possible sentence against the defendants", reports the daily Hammihan.