NUJ condemns as abhorrent Iran’s “convictions” of 44 journalists working on Persian-language media outlets 

  • 22 Feb 2024

The union calls for action to be taken against Iran following revelations that the Tehran Revolutionary court in absentia tried the journalists on the charge of "propaganda against the Islamic Republic".

Journalists were tried and convicted in absentia, and until the leaks from a hacking group no one was even aware that the secret proceedings had taken place. 
The journalists include 10 people working for BBC Persian in London and others working for the London-based Iran International, Manoto TV and Gem TV, the Voice of America and Prague-based Radio Farda (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“This is yet more evidence of the all-out war on Iranian journalists inside the country and abroad by the Iranian government. It is deeply shocking that a state can act in this abhorrent way, putting journalists and their families in real danger in a flagrant abuse of press freedom. Once again, we will be contacting the UK’s government and the UN and we ask that the wider international community speak out against this outrageous weaponising of journalists.

“Particularly worrying is the use by the regime of red notices through Interpol which can inhibit the movement of these journalists, as they travel abroad for work or to meet with family in third countries. We will continue to work with the BBC and IFJ to put pressure on the UK and other governments to confront Iran about its abuse, including death threats, of journalists.”

The situation was revealed after the hacking group Edaalat Ali published a database of Tehran Judiciary's criminal cases, which includes some details of three million public and secret cases.

None of those “convicted” journalists knew about this case until the documents were hacked and published which showed they were tried in absentia, without legal representation or access to the indictment. In other instances, the Iranian authorities have since used this as a justification to persecute, harass and intimidate independent journalists and their families.

The leaked document says this was a secret case, filed in December 2021 and judge Iman Afshari found all the defendants guilty of Propaganda Against the Islamic Republic in February 2022. 

In a separate case opened in 2017, 152 individuals, mostly BBC Persian employees and contributors, stood accused of Conspiracy Against the National Security (of Iran), which resulted in an asset freeze order issued against them and their families in Iran.

  • Brave Journalism: hear Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, speak on Tuesday 27 February at an event hosted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Dutch Centre, on threats against journalists and action needed from stakeholders including policy makers to ensure improved protection. Tickets are free for the in-person London event, find out more and register now to ensure a place. 

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