The Board of WAN-IFRA denounces the arrest and ongoing detention of its 2023 Golden Pen of Freedom laureates and condemns the brutal crackdown against the press and all those protesting in support of human rights in Iran.

On 29th September 2022, security forces arrested Elahe Mohammadi, a reporter for the daily newspaper Hammihan, after she covered the funeral of Mahsa Amini – a young Kurdish-Iranian woman arrested by Iran’s morality police – during which thousands of people chanted “Jin, Jian, Azadi” (woman, life, freedom) for the first time. These protests remain ongoing, with thousands detained and hundreds executed for their role.

Niloofar Hamedi works for the reformist daily newspaper Shargh and was arrested for breaking the news about Mahsa Amini’s death in detention and for reporting on her treatment by Iran’s Morality Police. Ms. Hamedi was one of the first journalists to cover Amini’s story and published a photo of her parents hugging in the hospital that spread rapidly online.

In November 2022, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence agency of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard accused Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi of planning to orchestrate nationwide protests with their reporting as agents of foreign intelligence agencies, claiming they were colluding with the intention of acting against national security and creating propaganda against the state.

The Board of WAN-IFRA acknowledges that there could be as many as 43 journalists currently in jail in Iran, with nearly half of them women journalists.

Therefore, the Board of WAN-IFRA denounces the regime in Iran over its blatant disregard for human rights and its deliberate targeting of journalists. The Board reminds Iranian authorities that journalism is not a crime and calls for the release of all those detained for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. With urgency, the Board of WAN-IFRA demands the immediate release of Elahe Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi, and all journalists detained in Iran simply for doing their jobs.

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