Two Iranian well-known sports journalists who were in Australia to cover FIFA Women's World Cup have said they will not return to Iran.
Saeed Zahedian, the chief sports editor of the Iranian government's Iran Newspaper, and Naeem Ahmadi, the newspaper's photojournalist, plan to apply for asylum in Australia, they told Iran International.
Iran Sports daily is among the most popular newspapers in Iran and Naeem Ahmadi is one of the best sport photographers of Iran.
Last week, two Iranian female journalists, who were arrested during anti-regime protests, were sentenced to three years and seven months in prison. In addition, the journalists opposed compulsory hijab during court proceedings, which led to further controversy, as reported by the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
The regime has intensified pressure against journalists. Earlier this month, Behrooz Behzadi, who is in his late 70s as is the editor in charge of Etemad newspaper, ‘accused of publishing false content’ following a complaint by Revolutionary Guard Corps and banned from any kind of press activity for one year.
The increasing repression against journalists has drawn condemnation from various quarters, including the Tehran Journalists’ Association, which denounced the issuance of "heavy and unconventional judicial sentences against journalists" and urged the judicial system to halt such practices.
The Islamic Republic's track record as a major repressor of the media has drawn international attention. However, the current wave of repressions has escalated since the nationwide uprising against the regime.