The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders has called on the Islamic Republic to stop the widespread persecution of journalists and activists after two reporters were sentenced to a combined 25 years in prison.
"Disturbed by Iran's sentencing of journalists Elahe Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi to 12 and 13 years and lawyer Saleh Nikbakht to 1 year, for their work on Mahsa Amini's case, which sparked protests in 2022," said Mary Lawlor on X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 23.
"Iran must stop the widespread persecution of human rights defenders and journalists," she added.
The two journalists had been detained for covering the death of Mahsa Amini and its aftermath.
Hamedi and Mohammadi are being held at Tehran’s Evin Prison. They are accused of collaborating with the "hostile" government of the United States, "colluding to commit crimes against national security", and engaging in "propaganda activities against the system."
Before her arrest, Hamedi captured an image of Amini’s parents embracing each other at a Tehran hospital while their daughter was in a coma, and shared the photo on Twitter. Mohammadi wrote a report on Mahsa's funeral titled "A Nation in Mourning."
The 15th branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Abulqasem Salavati, sentenced Mohammadi to 12 years in prison and Hamedi to 13 years in prison on October 22.
Adding to the severity of the punishment, they were also barred from engaging in journalism, as well as social and political activities for two years.
Meanwhile, an Iranian court on October 17 sentenced the legal representative of Mahsa Amini's family to one year in prison for "propaganda activity" against the Islamic Republic.
The France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network said that Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Tehran also banned Saleh Nikbakht from online activities for a period of two years.
Nikbakht, 72, was put on trial over interviews he gave to domestic and foreign media, in which he criticized the government's handling of Mahsa Amini’s death and its aftermath.
The Ministry of Intelligence, the plaintiff in the case, alleged he had pushed the Amini family to seek legal redress for Mahsa’s death in police custody in September last year.
On September 19, Branch 36 of the Court of Appeals in Tehran province sentenced two other women journalists, Saeedeh Shafiei and Nasim Sultanbeigi, to more than four years in prison each.
Shafiei and Sultanbeigi received three-year and six-month prison sentences on the charge of "assembly and collusion."
Shafiei and Sultanbeigi were initially sentenced to three years and seven months on the charge of "assembly and collusion."
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a media freedom NGO, Iranian authorities have arrested at least 95 journalists since Amini’s death in September 2022.
Many have been released on bail while awaiting trial or summonses to serve multi-year sentences.