Journalist Elaheh Mohammadi was put on trail behind closed doors in Iran on Monday for reporting on the death of Jîna Mahsa Amini, the icon of Iran’s anti-regime protests, signalling a grave blow to transparency and press freedom in the country.
Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, lost her life in September after being victim to alleged beatings by officers whilst in custody of Iran’s morality police. The young woman was initially detained for allegedly breaching the country’s strict Islamic dress code. The incident sparked nationwide protests that have persisted for months.
Iran’s intelligence ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) alleged that Mohammadi and and a second journalist, Niloufar Hamedi, were CIA agents after the two reporters aired journalistic coverage of the funeral held for Amini in the Kurdish city of Saqqez.
Mohammadi, from the pro-reform newspaper Hammihan, and Hamedi from the newspaper Sharq, have been accused by authorities in Iran of ‘colluding with hostile powers’, an offence punishable by death under Islamic law.
The Islamic Republic is conducting the proceedings against the journalists behind closed doors despite repeated calls by human rights groups for an open, public trial. Mohammadi’s employer, the daily Hammihan, criticised the court’s decision to run a closed trail, describing it as illogical and indicative of potential procedural irregularities.
The date for the next session of Mohammadi’s trail will be announced by the court in due course, stated Mohammadi’s lawyer. Meanwhile, Hamedi’s trial is scheduled to start on Tuesday.
Previously, as Amini lay in hospital after her alleged fatal beatings under police custody, Hamedi had posted a photograph on Twitter that captured Amini’s parents embracing each other outside their daughter’s ward. It has become a haunting symbol of the young woman’s death.