The two journalists had been sentenced to long prison terms for their widely-publicised reporting on the 2022 death, in police custody, of Mahsa Amini.

Niloufar Hamedi, 31, broke the news of Amini’s death and treatment at the hands of Iran’s Morality Police in 2022; Elaheh Mohammadi, 36, travelled to and covered Amini’s funeral. 

Their reportage, including images of Amini lying brain dead in hospital, and her devastated parents embracing, spread rapidly online and sparked nationwide protests.

Millions took to the streets in one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement protests – and the subsequent arrest and detention of nearly 100 journalists sparked international criticism.

Both Hamedi and Mohammadi were arrested a week apart in September 2022 and, in late October, charged by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence agency of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

They were found guilty of spreading propaganda; committing a crime against national security; and collaborating with a foreign state, and sentenced to 13 and 12 years respectively.

On Sunday, Hamedi and Mohammadi were released on 10bn toman (£150,000) bail after appealing against their sentences. They had spent 17 months in prison.

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 Monday, referring to a video widely shared on social media showing the two journalists celebrating their release with family (see below).

According to ISNA news agency the pair are banned from leaving the country until the appeal is heard.

Global recognition for courageous reportage

Both Hamedi and Mohammadi have been widely recognised for their work. 

In June, they received the 2023 Golden Pen of Freedom, WAN-IFRA’s annual press freedom award, at the 2023 World News Media Congress

They are also joint winners of both the 2023 International Press Freedom Award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), and the 2023 Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, presented by Harvard University in the United States. 

They were also named as two of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023.

Niloofar Hamedi, Elaheh Mohammadi and Narges Mohammadi were also named as the laureates of the 2023 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, along with Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi, an activist journalist, and author of  White Torture, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence, and continues to report from prison.  

Also See: A World of Courage: How our Golden Pen laureates continue to inspire

Related cases

On Monday, imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi’s family posted on social media that her prison sentence had been extended for an additional 15 months for allegedly spreading propaganda against Iran.

According to an Instagram post by Mohammadi’s family, the new sentence was handed down on December 19. Mohammadi now faces “five convictions since March 2021, amounting to a total of 12 years and three months of imprisonment, 154 lashes, four months of travel ban, two years of exile” and several social and political prohibitions.

Elaheh Mohammadi’s twin sister, Elnaz, also a journalist, was arrested in February 2023, and given a 3-year suspended sentence. In December, she revealed on social media that she was forced to resign

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