Iran lodges hijab case against journalists day after temporary release

New proceedings are launched against the two journalists for posing without the mandatory hijab upon their release after more than a year in prison.

This picture taken and released by the Sharq News Online on January 14, 2024, shows Iranian journalists Niloufar Hamedi (R) and Elaheh Mohammadi (L) flashing the sign of victory after they were released from Evin prison on bail in Tehran. - Iranian authorities on freed two journalists who spent more than a year behind bars for covering the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked months-long nationwide protests, local media said.
Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi, right, and Elaheh Mohammadi after theit release from Evin Prison in Tehran [Sahand Taki/Sharq news online/AFP]

Iran’s judiciary has opened a new case against two jailed female journalists for appearing without a hijab after their temporary release from prison, reports say.

Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi had the new case filed against them on Monday, a day after they were released on bail.

The duo had been sentenced to 13  and 12 years in prison respectively for reporting on the death in custody of Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini in 2022.

Images of the two journalists smiling and holding hands outside the prison circulated on social media following their release.

“After footage of the defendants without hijab was released online, a new case has been filed against them,” the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said on Sunday, referring to a video widely shared on social media showing the two journalists celebrating their release with family.

The terms of the journalists’ release prohibit them from travelling abroad, the agency said.

Amini died after she was held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating the strict dress code, sparking months of anti-government protests. Hundreds of people, including dozens of security personnel, were killed in the unrest.

In October, the judiciary said the duo had been found guilty of collaborating with the United States, conspiring against state security and spreading “propaganda” against Iran.

Nobel laureate’s sentence extended

Also on Monday, Iran extended imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi’s sentence for an additional 15 months for allegedly spreading propaganda against Iran, her family said.

According to an Instagram post by Mohammadi’s family, the new sentence was handed down on December 19. Mohammadi had refused to attend the court session, said the post.

Iranian human rights activist and the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) Narges Mohammadi
Iranian rights activist Narges Mohammadi [File: Mohammadi family archive photos/Handout via Reuters]

The verdict also stipulates that once Mohammadi ends her 30-month sentence, she will not be allowed to travel abroad, take membership in political and social groups or have a mobile phone for two years.

The ruling also forbids her from being in the capital Tehran, meaning she will have to serve the new sentence in another province in Iran.

Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman after human rights activist Shirin Ebadi in 2003.

In November, Mohammadi went on a hunger strike over being denied access to medical care and to protest the country’s mandatory headscarves for women.

Mohammadi had led protests sparked by Amini’s death.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies