Iran urged to drop ‘vague’ national security charges against 3 women scribes

Cairo, July 3 (EFE). Iranian authorities have implicated three women journalists in what Human Rights Watch calls “vague propaganda and national security” charges.

The rights group urged the Islamic Republic to drop the charges that stem from the journalists’ reporting and writing on social media.

The trial of journalists Saeideh Shafiei, Mehrnoush Zarei Henzaki, and Nasim Sultan Beigi began on Monday, and each of the charges carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.

“Iran’s judiciary has once again begun summoning and harassing journalists and human rights defenders, punishing anyone who refuses to remain silent,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The authorities have been relentless in prosecuting and punishing anyone reporting on the social issues and grievances that were central to the protests over the last months.”

The rights group said the charges against Shafiei relate to several articles she wrote in the monthly online Peace Mark magazine on rising poverty and the government’s management of energy subsidies and public resources.

The charges against Henzaki relate to her articles on reproductive laws and the state of Iran’s national parks.

Sultan Beigi has been charged with collaborating with numerous domestic and foreign media outlets.

An HRW statement said the prosecutor was seeking the “most severe penalty for Sultan Beigi due to her lack of cooperation during her interrogation and her promotion of the removal of the hijab.”

In September 2022, Iranians took to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, allegedly in the custody of the “morality police.”

The protests morphed into anti-government demonstrations against the autocratic government’s long track record of repression and impunity.

“Iranian authorities cracked down on the nationwide protests with excessive and lethal force, killing hundreds of protesters,” the nonprofit said.

The authorities imprisoned tens of thousands of protesters and hundreds of activists, journalists, and human rights defenders on dubious charges and issued death sentences in grossly unfair trials.

In February, Iranian authorities announced a broad amnesty, which included the release of many of those detained as well as pardons or reduced sentences for those arrested, charged, or detained during the protest.

“The Iranian authorities are now summoning several activists and protesters who were recently released, especially journalists, media have reported. It is unclear whether they are facing old or new charges,” the statement said.

“The international community should keep the cases of journalists and human rights defenders at the center of its engagement with Iran,” Sepehri Far said.

“States should be demanding that Iran drop these and other ridiculous charges that authorities have brought against journalists.” EFE


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