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Supporters of jailed Iranian journalists call for open trial | Iran

Supporters of two award-winning Iranian journalists who first reported the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in police custody last year, have demanded that the trial, which was scheduled to begin next week, be made public conduct.

Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, renowned on the ground coverage of Iranian social affairs, have been in custody since their first arrest eight months ago and face charges of conspiring with a hostile foreign power that could harbor Iran. Sentenced to death. Critics of the regime claim they were being punished for reporting on protests over Amini’s death after he was arrested for not wearing a headscarf properly during a visit to Tehran.

Their trial could be seen as a test of Iran’s limited media freedoms and of the regime’s ability to learn from the protests, rather than just resort to them. Greater suppression.

Iran acknowledged Amini’s death in police custody but said it was the result of pre-existing nerves or heart disease. Her family said she was beaten in a police car.

Hamedi, who works for the reformist Al Sharq newspaper, went to the Qasra hospital where Amini died and tweeted a photo of Amini’s parents embracing and comforting each other in a hallway. “The black dress of mourning has become our national flag,” she wrote alongside.

Mohammadi vividly described for the Hammihan newspaper the grief and sorrow of 1,000 mourners at the funeral in Amini’s hometown of Saqqez in the western Kurdistan province. anger. Amini’s tombstone reads: “You will not die. Your name will become a symbol.” Mohammadi was arrested on September 22 and her computer was confiscated.

The Revolutionary Guards accused the duo of publishing information that became the main source of information for foreign sources. The two are being tried separately by the Revolutionary Court, with Muhammadi’s trial starting on Monday and Hamedi’s on Tuesday.

Mohammadi’s husband, Saeed Parsaei, protested his wife’s prolonged detention without bail. He told reformist newspaper Etemaad: “On a personal and policy level, from our point of view, the main question is why these two men were arrested for their professional and legal duties.”

He said it wasn’t just families and the press that were calling for a public hearing, but the wider public. “Why should the judicial system worry about courts sitting in public?” he asked. “Without evidence and documents, the court’s secrecy will not help society accept it and will only increase the scope for mistrust.”

He admits he doesn’t know if it’s better to complain publicly about their treatment.

Hamedi’s husband, Mohammad Hossein Ajorlou, said the allegations of cooperating with hostile forces were baseless and the open court hearing had brought the quality of evidence against his wife into public view. The right to a public trial is part of Iran’s constitution, he said.

He claimed that access to lawyers was limited and a trial date was announced before the defendant was even informed. He recalled his wife saying: “Compared to all the solitary confinement and prisons, my heart broke when I heard my allegations. I love so many Iranians and everything I do is for Iran, but they accuse me of colluding with hostile forces.”

In a lengthy joint statement in October, the Ministry of Information and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed to have uncovered a vast CIA plot to sabotage Iran and said the two women had attended overseas training courses controlled by the CIA or the U.S. State Department Attend class.

Since their arrest, the pair have won the United Nations’ Press Freedom Award, among many other awards.

They called for an open court after the editor-in-chief of the Etemad newspaper, Behrouz Behzadi, was jailed for six months and fined for a series of articles published in protests that undermined the foundations of the Islamic Republic. One of the articles detailed the scale of the economic crisis facing Iran’s poorest. The case was brought by the IRGC.

Separately, nearly 100 lawyers were summoned to the Evin Security Court and asked to sign a document expressing their personal remorse for supporting the protests. Those who refuse to sign appear to be barred from continuing to practice as lawyers.

Iran ranks 179 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

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