Two journalists imprisoned in Iran following their coverage of the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked nationwide protests in 2022, have been temporarily released on bail, according to state-run media.

Convicted in October, Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi are currently awaiting a verdict on their appeals, according to Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA. But the women were allowed to leave their Tehran jail on Sunday with a bail of 10 billion tomans each (nearly $200,000 each), IRNA reported. They are also banned from leaving the country, it said.

Hamedi and Mohammadi were arrested in late September 2022, after protests spread across Iran fueled by the death of 22-year-old Amini, who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly.

Hamedi was arrested after visiting Amini in the hospital to report on the young woman’s medical condition, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Mohammadi was arrested after reporting on Amini’s funeral, according to RSF and the United Nations.

Mohammadi’s sister, Elnaz, shared news of her sister leaving jail in an Instagram post. “The moment of freedom,” she wrote alongside photos and videos of Hamedi and Mohammadi walking together, holding hands and making V-sign gestures for victory, with smiles on their face.

Hamedi’s husband Mohamad Hosein Ajoroloo – who has been posting details of the case and memories of his wife to social media since her detention – shared a photo of their embrace after her release.

Amini’s father Amjad also rejoiced via Instagram at the journalists’ provisional release.

According to IRNA, Mohammadi’s sentence includes “6 years in prison on the charge of cooperating with the hostile government of the United States, 5 years in prison for conspiracy to commit a crime against the security of the country, and 1 year in prison on the charge of propagating activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Hamedi, according to IRNA, “was sentenced to 7 years in prison for collaborating with the hostile government of the United States, 5 years in prison for collusion and collusion to commit a crime against the country’s security, and 1 year in prison for propaganda activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The journalist’ sentences also include two-year ban on membership in political parties, social media activity, and working in media, IRNA reports.

Sherif Mansour, Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in the Middle East and North Africa, last year described the two women’s convictions as “stark testament to the erosion of freedom of speech and the desperate attempts of the Iranian government to criminalize journalism.”

While imprisoned, Hamedi and Mohammadi were awarded the prestigious 2023 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for outstanding contributions to press freedom.

They were also recognized as one of the top 100 influential people of 2023 by TIME magazine.

UNESCO on Sunday hailed the journalists’ release.

“UNESCO welcomed the release on bail today of Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, two of the three laureates of the 2023 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize. May they be able to continue their vital work to inform,” it posted on X.

Source » cnn