An Iranian court has sentenced journalist Alireza Khoshbakht to six years in prison, her mother says, amid a brutal crackdown on nationwide protests and the media in the country.
Zahra Mohammadi tweeted on January 17 that Khoshbakht was handed five years on the charge of "collusion with the intention of committing a crime" and one year for "spreading propaganda" against the Islamic Republic.
She said her son will have to serve five years of his sentence.
"They (the authorities) understand better than anyone else that he and all lovers of Iran are innocent. I am seeking help from God in the face such obvious tyranny," Mohammadi wrote.
Khoshbakht, a freelance reporter who covered politics and human rights for Iranian news outlets, was arrested in Tehran on September 22 along with his wife Zahra Tovhidi, a fellow journalist. He was released on bail after spending 94 days behind bars.
The journalist was later re-arrested and went on trial at Branch 29 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.
In the days before his arrest, Khoshbakht tweeted about the widespread protests sparked by the September 16 death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who was in morality police custody for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress law.
More than 60 journalists have been detained since the eruption of the anti-government protests. Some of them have been released. Others have been summoned, threatened and had their electronic equipment seized.
Known for its harsh Internet censorship, which includes banning thousands of websites, the Islamic Republic has to a large scale shut down the Internet for most of Iranians in an effort to prevent them from accessing and disseminating information online and from communicating safely.
On December 1, 2022, the Islamic Republic was the world’s third biggest jailer of journalists after China and Myanmar, with 47 detainees, according to Reporters Without Borders.
More than 500 people have been killed in the Iranian security forces’ clampdown on the protest movement, and over 18,000 have been arrested, activists say.
Dozens have been handed capital punishment or are facing charges that carry a death sentence. Four young men have been hanged in connection with the protests so far, triggering international condemnation.