Iran accuses female journalists who helped break Amini’s story of being CIA spies

Iran accuses female journalists who helped break Amini’s story of being CIA spies


Two Iranian journalists who helped break the story of Mahsa Amina, the 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman whose death in the custody of the so-called morality police last month sparked a nationwide riot, were formally charged late Friday with being CIA spies and “primary news sources for foreign media” – the first crime punishable by the death penalty in Iran.

Journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi have been held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since late September as Iran’s clerical leaders have struggled to contain an outpouring of public anger and protests calling for their ouster. Women and young Iranians were at the forefront of the uprising, the longest demonstration in decades.

In a joint statement sent to Iranian media late Friday local time, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence agency, the much-feared guardians of the Iranian security statehe accused the CIA of orchestrating Hamedi and Mohammadi’s reporting, and said that “allied intelligence services and fanatical proxies” were planning leaderless riots across the country.

As protests rock Iran, its most feared security forces are waiting

The CIA, along with British, Israeli and Saudi spy agencies, “planned extensively to launch a nationwide insurgency in Iran with the aim of committing crimes against the great people of Iran and its territorial integrity, as well as laying the groundwork for intensifying external pressure,” the unsubstantiated report said. statement. It also claimed without providing evidence that two journalists were trained abroad and sent to provoke Amini’s family and spread misinformation.

Both Hamedi and Mohammadi’s editors-in-chief denied the allegations on Saturday and said the journalists were just doing their jobs.

“What they called proof of their accusations is the correct definition of the professional duty of journalists,” the Journalist Association of Iran said. in a statement on Saturday.

Journalists from two Iranian news outlets outside the country who were among the first to report on Amini’s case also condemned the allegations and told the Washington Post that neither Hamedi nor Mohammadi were their original sources.

“This is a threat to other journalists, to other media that if they continue to publish the news … they will be charged,” said Aida Ghajar, a reporter based in France. Iran Wire news agency, the former Newsweek reporter began.

“This scenario” of labeling journalists as foreign spies “is a scenario that the Iranian regime always uses against journalists,” she added.

Mohsen Moheimany, a reporter for London-based Iran International, another frequent target of Iranian state propaganda, also said they were relying on their own sources and called the accusations aimed at “stifling the media and the opposition.”

In a potentially ominous sign, the head of the Revolutionary Guard warned on Saturday that “today is the last day of unrest” – the corps’ sharpest statement yet hinting it could intensify a comprehensive crackdown on the protests, now in their seventh week.

Experts explain exactly what Iran’s moral police are doing and why women are risking their lives on the front lines to fight it. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Rights groups say more than 200 people, including dozens of children, were killed and more than 12,000 people were arrested. On Monday, the authorities began to file the first charges against around 500 detained protesters.

About 45 Iranian journalists were among those arrested. according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Most American media outlets, including The Post, are barred from reporting in Iran, where widespread outages in cellphone and internet communications in recent weeks have made reporting difficult.

Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian was previously held in Evin prison for 544 days on trumped-up charges of being a US spy.

Hamedi, a reporter for the reformist daily Shargh, published a widely circulated report on September 16 from Tehran’s Kasra Hospital, where Amini died after being hospitalized on September 13 while in police custody for alleged clothing violations. On it, Hamedi also shared a photo of Amini’s distraught family in hospital after he deactivated his Twitter account.

Iranian authorities claimed that Amini had suffered a heart attack; her family said police beat their daughter, also known by her Kurdish name, Jina, to death.

Mohammadi, a reporter for Ham Mihan, another daily newspaper linked to Iran’s reformist politicians, reported on September 17 from Amini’s funeral in her hometown of Saqqez in northwestern Kurdistan province. Security forces stormed the funeral, where mourners chanted anti-Islamic Republic slogans and women removed their mandatory headscarves in the first major protest of the rebellion.

Security forces arrested Hamedi on September 22 and Mohammadi on September 29. The two were kept in and out of solitary confinement.

Despite the danger of exposing state abuses, reports of Amini’s case quickly began to circulate.

Sajjad Khodakarami, an Iranian journalist based in Istanbul, said he first saw an Instagram story posted late September 13 by a witness at Kasra Hospital who shared reports that a woman had been beaten into a coma by morality police. Khodakarami contacted the person the next morning, who said he had been called by Iranian authorities and told to remove the post. Khodakarami, who tweeted about the new reports and worked with Iran International to cover the story, shared a screenshot on Instagram with The Post but did not name the person to protect their safety.

Editor-in-Chief of Shargh, Mehdi Rahmanian, who is previously arrested for newspaper reporting, issued a statement on Saturday denying the state’s charges.

“Publishing the picture and the report about Mahsa Amini was the right thing to do and we were just doing our duty in spreading the news,” he said. Rahmanian coordinated with Hamedi “in all phases of her work,” he added.

Gholamhossein Karbaschi, reformist politician and said editor-in-chief Ham Meehan the semi-official ILNA news agency on Saturday that an open media environment in Iran “will be more beneficial for the country’s security”.

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