Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court has handed down prison sentences and imposed social restrictions on two female journalists, Saeedeh Shafiei and Nasim Soltanbeigi, marking an ongoing crackdown on press freedom in the country.
Shafiei, a seasoned journalist with more than two decades of experience, received a two-year prison sentence on July 31, coupled with two years of social deprivation. This includes a ban on engaging in media activities and leaving the country. Meanwhile, Soltanbeigi, a journalist and civil activist, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and two years of social deprivation.
Both journalists faced charges of “propaganda against the regime,” “insulting the supreme leader,” and “disturbing public opinion.” The sentences were issued by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, under the jurisdiction of Judge Iman Afshari.
The sentencing of Shafiei and Soltanbeigi reflects the broader efforts by Iranian authorities to stifle dissent, targeting not only journalists but also human rights activists and opposition figures.
Soltanbeigi’s arrest took place in December 2022 at Tehran’s Khomeini International Airport when she attempted to travel abroad. After spending over a month in detention, she was temporarily released on bail on February 7 until the conclusion of legal proceedings.
Previously, Soltanbeigi had been a student activist in the 2000s and worked as a journalist for various Iranian publications in recent years.
In 2006, she was detained for eight days for participating in a “Women for Change” rally and subsequently received a suspended sentence of five years, along with two years of probation, contingent on her adherence to specific terms.
Similarly, Shafiei was arrested in Tehran on January 22 and was granted temporary release on bail of 5 billion rials ($9,500) on February 8 until the resolution of her legal case.
These sentences come amidst a surge in defiance by women and schoolgirls, posing a significant challenge to the Islamic government, unmatched since the 1979 revolution.
Furthermore, several thousand individuals, including protesters, lawyers, activists, and digital-rights defenders, have been arrested following the death of Amini, indicating a broader crackdown on dissent in the country.