Iranian Journalist Demand That Colleagues Jailed For Covering Amini's Death Be Freed
PARIS, France - More than 300 Iranian journalists have demanded the release of two colleagues jailed for their coverage of Masha Amini, whose death in custody triggered protests poising one of the biggest challenges to ruling clerics in decades.
Their call came in a statement published by the Iranian Etemad and other newspapers on Sunday.
Nollofar Hamedi took a photo of Amini's parents hugging each other in a Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma.
The image, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the first signal to the world that all was not well with Amini, who had been detained three days earlier by Iran's morality police for what they deemed inappropriate dress.
Elaheh Mohammadi covered Amini's funeral in her Kurdish hometown Saqez, where the protests began. A joint statement released by Iran's intelligence ministry and the intelligence organisation of the Revolutionary Guards on Friday had accused Hamedi and Mohammadi of being CIA foreign agents.
The arrests match an official narrative that Iran's arch-enemy the United States, Israel, and other Western powers and their local agents are behind the unrest and are determined to destabilize the country.
At least 40 journalists have been detained in the past six weeks, according to rights groups, and the number is growing.
What began as outrage over Amini's death on Sept.16 evolved into a popular revolt by people from all layers of society.
Students and women have played a prominent role, burning their veils as crowds call for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the toppling of the Islamic Republic, which has repressed any dissent since the 1979 revolution.
There are no signs that a crackdown will defuse the fury, even after the feared head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day of taking to the streets, the harshest warning yet.
Analysts say Iran's leaders will manage to withstand the pressure but that the path of political change in the future could be irreversible.