This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court has sentenced two female journalists, Saeedeh Shafiei and Nasim Soltanbeigi, to prison terms and imposed social restrictions on them, marking a continued clampdown on press freedom in the country.
Shafiei, a seasoned journalist with over two decades of experience, was sentenced on July 31 to two years in prison along with two years of social deprivation, including a ban on media activities and leaving the country. Soltanbeigi, a journalist and civil activist, received a sentence of 2 1/2 years in prison and two years of social deprivation.
Both journalists were charged with “propaganda against the regime,” “insulting the supreme leader,” and “disturbing public opinion.” The sentences were issued by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Iman Afshari.
The sentencing of Shafiei and Soltanbeigi is part of a broad push by Iranian authorities to use the judiciary to silence critics, including journalists, human rights activists, and opposition figures.
Soltanbeigi was first arrested in December 2022 at Tehran’s Khomeini International Airport while attempting to travel abroad. After being detained for over a month, she was temporarily released on bail on February 7 until the end of the legal proceedings.
Soltanbeigi was a student activist in the 2000s and has been working as a journalist for various Iranian publications in recent years.
She was detained for eight days in 2006 for attending a “Women for Change” rally before a court sentenced her to a suspended sentence of five years. She was also placed on probation for two years and told that her sentence would be canceled if she did not violate the terms of her probation.
Similarly, Shafiei was arrested in Tehran on January 22. She was temporarily released on bail of 5 billion rials ($9,500) on February 8 until the end of the legal proceedings.
The sentences come amid unprecedented shows of defiance by women and schoolgirls in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.
Several thousand others have been arrested since Amini’s death, including many protesters, lawyers, activists, and digital-rights defenders.