An Iranian journalist has gone on trial behind closed doors on charges linked to her coverage of the funeral of a Kurdish-Iranian woman whose death in custody last year triggered months of unrest, her lawyer told ILNA news agency.
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s Islamic dress code unleashed a wave of mass protests across the country for months, marking the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leaders in decades.
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Elaheh Mohammadi, a reporter for the pro-reform Hammihan newspaper who was on trial on Monday in Tehran, and another journalist, Niloofar Hamedi, of the Sharq newspaper, have been accused of “colluding with hostile powers” for their coverage of Amini’s death.
The charge potentially carries the death penalty under Iranian law.
Iran’s intelligence ministry released a joint statement in October accusing Mohammadi and Hamedi of being CIA foreign agents.
Hamedi took a photo of Amini’s parents hugging each other in a Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma.
Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in her Kurdish hometown Saqez, where the protests began. Iran accused its foreign foes of igniting the protests to destabilise the country.
“The trial of Elaheh Mohammadi went well. The date of the next session will be announced by the court,” her lawyer, Shahabeddin Mirlohi, told ILNA. He was not immediately available for comment.
The image of Amini, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the first signal to the world that all was not well with the young woman, who had been arrested three days earlier by Iran’s morality police.
The two journalists, held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since last September, will be tried separately. Hamedi’s trial will begin on Tuesday, according to the judiciary.
Iran has ignored repeated calls by rights groups for a public trial for the two journalists.