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Iran Convicted 44 Foreign-Based Journalists In Absentia, Leaked Document Reveals

Friday, 02/23/2024

A leaked document has revealed that Tehran’s Revolutionary Court convicted 44 foreign-based journalists and media activists in absentia two years ago over the allegation of “propaganda against the government.”

At the time of the verdict, the journalists were working for foreign-based Persian-language media outlets including Iran International, BBC Farsi, Manoto, Radio Farda, GEM TV and Voice of America.

The document was revealed among a trove of files accessed after the hacktivist group Edalat-e Ali, or Ali’s Justice, breached the servers of the Iranian judiciary on Tuesday.

Dated February 9, 2022, the leaked document concerns the legal proceedings which led to the conviction of the journalists in the 26th branch of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. According to the document, the verdict was issued in secret.

The names included renowned figures such as Mahmoud Enayat, Aliasghar Ramezanpour, Mehdi Parpanchi and Keivan Abbasi.

Following the revelations, Michelle Stanistreet, the secretary general of the UK-based National Union of Journalists (NUJ), called it “a flagrant abuse of press freedom". "It is deeply shocking that a state can act in this abhorrent way, putting journalists and their families in real danger,” she said.

Noting that the majority of those convicted are based in London, she called on the UK, the United Nations and the international community to condemn “this outrageous weaponizing of journalists.”

She warned, “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".

According to the NUJ, the 44 journalists and media activists had no information about their sentences prior to the release of the leaked documents by the hacktivist group. This shows they were convicted “without legal representation or access to the indictment,” the union stressed.

Meanwhile, another document obtained by the hackers revealed that the Iranian regime targeted dozens of Iran International TV staff with financial bans and threats to their families amid national protests in 2019.

Iran International was aware of the regime’s intimidation tactics at the time, but the documents offer indisputable proof that Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and judicial officials were coordinating the harassment efforts.

This is not the first time Tehran’s schemes to harass and target foreign-based Iranian journalists, especially those affiliated with Iran International, are disclosed.

In December 2023, UK’s ITV revealed that the IRGC was plotting to assassinate two Iran International television anchors in London in 2022 amid Iranian anti-government protests.

The situation is no better for journalists and media activists inside Iran. Earlier in the month, Defending the Free Flow of Information (DFI), a group monitoring freedom of speech and media in Iran, reported that over 20 journalists and media outlets and managers in the country underwent judicial scrutiny in January 2024.

Iran is a leading persecutor of journalists among the ranks of China, Russia, and Belarus, and one of the most oppressive regimes concerning freedom of expression and media liberties.

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