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Journalism is not a Crime

Iranian Journalist Portabatabaei Goes on Trial for “Spreading Lies”

July 31, 2023
1 min read
Iranian journalist Ali Portabatabaei, the editor of the Qom News website, stood trial on July 31 for allegedly "spreading lies” about a wave of poisonings that has affected thousands of students, mainly schoolgirls, across the country.
Iranian journalist Ali Portabatabaei, the editor of the Qom News website, stood trial on July 31 for allegedly "spreading lies” about a wave of poisonings that has affected thousands of students, mainly schoolgirls, across the country.

Iranian journalist Ali Portabatabaei, the editor of the Qom News website, stood trial on July 31 for allegedly "spreading lies” about a wave of poisonings that has affected thousands of students, mainly schoolgirls, across the country.

"The respected judge asked me to defend myself regarding the accusation of publishing falsehoods with the intention of disturbing the public mind, and I presented my documents and defended myself," Portabatabaei tweeted after the first court hearing. 

He also said that the charges of communicating with foreigners and "espionage" were dropped.

Portabatabaei was arrested in March this year after covering the first poisoning cases in Qom schools in November 2022.

Until May this year, hundreds of girls’ schools across Iran were targeted by poisoning attacks in what Amnesty International described as “a campaign that appears to be highly coordinated and organized.”

As many as 13,000 pupils reportedly suffered symptoms including nausea, fainting, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties and heart palpitations, with many requiring treatment in hospital.

The attacks appeared to target girls for their involvement in nationwide protests sparked by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.

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