Iranian reporter freed after jail sentence for interviewing father of Mahsa Amini

Nazila Maroufian defiantly posts headscarf-less picture upon release from Evin prison, says health scare was not heart attack

A woman in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, looks at a screen on on November 4, 2022, displaying an undated video of Iranian journalist Nazila Maroufian. (Alex MITA / AFP)
A woman in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, looks at a screen on on November 4, 2022, displaying an undated video of Iranian journalist Nazila Maroufian. (Alex MITA / AFP)

PARIS, France — An Iranian journalist previously handed a two-year jail sentence after interviewing the father of the woman whose custody death sparked months of protests said Sunday she had been released from prison.

After her release from Tehran’s Evin prison, Nazila Maroufian defiantly posted a picture of herself on social media without a headscarf, flouting the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

“Don’t accept slavery, you deserve the best,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, and on Instagram. The picture showed her clutching flowers in one hand, and her other hand raised in a victory sign.

In October, Maroufian, whose age is given by Persian media outside Iran as 23, published an interview on the Mostaghel Online news site with Amjad Amini.

He is the father of Mahsa Amini, whose death in custody last September after she allegedly violated the dress rules sparked months of protests.

In the interview, Amjad Amini accused authorities of lying about the circumstances of his daughter’s death.

A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic’s morality police, on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on September 20, 2022. (Ozan Kose/AFP)

Iranian authorities have indicated that Amini died because of a health problem, but the family and activists have said she suffered a blow to the head while in custody.

Maroufian, a Tehran-based journalist but from Amini’s hometown of Saqez in Kurdistan province, was first arrested in November.

She was later released, but in January said she had been sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for five years, on charges of propaganda against the system and spreading false news.

According to rights groups, Maroufian was again ordered back to Evin prison in early July.

There was major concern over her health earlier this month when supporters said she had been taken from prison to a hospital.

But in her social media post, Maroufian denied having had a heart attack and said she had suffered “shortness of breath and heart palpitations” and was now “fine.”

Iran has reacted harshly to reporting inside the country on the Amini case.

The two women journalists who helped to bring the story to the world’s attention have now spent almost a year in Evin after being arrested in September.

Niloufar Hamedi reported for Iran’s Shargh newspaper from the hospital where Amini languished in a coma for three days before she died, and Elahe Mohammadi, a reporter for the Ham Mihan newspaper, went to Saqez to report on Amini’s funeral.

US demonstrators rally at the National Mall to protest against the Iranian regime, in Washington, DC, October 22, 2022, following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the Islamic Republic’s notorious ‘morality police’ (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Both are now on trial on charges of violating national security, which they vehemently deny.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 95 reporters were arrested in the crackdown on the Amini protests, although most have now been released on bail.

Last week the Iranian authorities summoned the British ambassador, Simon Shercliff, after he called on Tehran to release detained journalists, in social media post to mark National Journalists’ Day in Iran.

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