Iranian journalist who covered Amini death denies national security charges at trial

Niloufar Hamedi tells court she ‘performed her work as a journalist within the framework of the law,’ according to her husband

A woman looks at a picture of Iranian reporters Niloufar Hamedi (left) and Elahe Mohammadi posted on twitter, in Nicosia on November 2, 2022. (Christina ASSI / AFP)
A woman looks at a picture of Iranian reporters Niloufar Hamedi (left) and Elahe Mohammadi posted on twitter, in Nicosia on November 2, 2022. (Christina ASSI / AFP)

PARIS, France — An Iranian reporter detained since September after she exposed the case of Mahsa Amini, which sparked nationwide protests, on Tuesday denied all charges against her as her trial on national security charges opened in Tehran, her husband said.

Niloufar Hamedi, 30, told the court “she had performed her work as a journalist within the framework of the law and did not take any action against Iran’s security,” her husband Mohammad Hossein Ajorlou wrote on Twitter.

Hamedi, a journalist with the Shargh newspaper, had reported from the Tehran hospital where Amini was rushed in September in a coma after she was arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s dress rules for women.

Amini subsequently died, with the news prompting nationwide protests. While the movement had abated in the last months in the face of a crackdown, sporadic actions continue.

The session opened a day after the trial began of her fellow journalist Elaheh Mohammadi, 36, of the Ham Miham newspaper, who faces the same charges.

Mohammadi was also jailed in September after was she travelled to Amini’s hometown of Saqez in Kurdistan province to report on her funeral ceremony which turned into a protest.

The two women were charged on November 8 with propaganda against the state and conspiring against national security, offences that potentially carry the death penalty.

Hamedi appeared at branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court before judge Abolghasem Salavati, notorious for handing out tough sentences in political cases.

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)

Ajorlou said family members were banned from attending while defense lawyers “did not have a chance to present their case.” The trial was postponed to a later and unspecified date, he added.

Hamedi’s lawyer, Parto Borhanpour, told Shargh “there was no time for the oral defense of the lawyers,” adding, however, that they were able to present the court with their objections and requests.

The defense objected to “Hamedi’s lack of access to a lawyer during her detention” and called for the trial to be held “publicly,” she added.

Dozens of journalists were arrested in the crackdown on the protests but Hamedi and Mohammadi have remained in jail ever since their arrests.

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described both trials as a “sham” and said the pair were being held as they were “among the first to draw the public’s attention” to Amini’s death.

It said the fact neither had been able to see their lawyers ahead of the trial “confirms that this is travesty of justice whose sole aim is to legitimize the persecution of these two journalists.”

The two women had earlier this month been jointly awarded, along with jailed Iranian dissident Narges Mohammadi, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano 2023 press freedom award of the UN’s cultural agency.

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