An Iranian newspaper journalist who played an important role in covering the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police is being held in solitary confinement.
Niloufar Hamedi was arrested after breaking the news that Amini, 22, was in hospital following her arrest this month for “unsuitable attire” by the police force, which enforces the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Hamedi is one of several reporters detained during the country’s worst protests since 2019.
After reporting that Amini, from the Iranian Kurdish city of Saqez, had been transferred to Kasra Hospital, Hamedi published a photo of her parents hugging each other in the hospital corridor, which spread rapidly online.
Amini’s subsequent death, following several blows to the head, prompted demonstrations across more than a hundred towns and cities in Iran.
Mohammad Hossein Ajorlou, Hamedi’s husband, said in a tweet that she was being interrogated in Evin Prison without being informed of the charges against her. He was permitted a short phone call with her yesterday.
Hamedi helped break the story for the Tehran-based reformist daily Shargh, and was arrested in a raid on the couple’s home last Thursday by Ministry of Information agents. Local media reported that the agents ransacked the property and confiscated their laptops and mobile phones.
A number of reporters and photographers have been arrested since protests involving violent clashes between demonstrators and police broke out on September 16.
State television said police clashed with “rioters” and fired tear gas to disperse women who burnt their veils and cut their hair in public protest. Streams of videos showed crowds chanting for the fall of the “dictator”, referring to the country’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s judiciary has set up special courts to try “rioters”, according to state media. The judiciary has given permission for a policy of “preventative arrests”, seemingly intended to stop activists from taking part in demonstrations and journalists from covering them. Government-imposed internet blackouts have also hampered coverage of the protests spreading.
More than 41 people, including members of the police and a pro-government militia, have died during the protests, according to state media. Iranian human rights groups reported a much higher toll.