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Stockholm: Skyline International strongly urges Iranian authorities to dismiss the charges brought against three women journalists currently facing prosecution for their reporting and writing on social media. The organization also demands an immediate end to the persistent "harassment, prosecution, and punishment" inflicted upon individuals exercising their rights to freedom of speech.

Saeideh Shafie, Mehrnoush Zarei, and Nasim Sultan Beigi found themselves on trial on July 3 before Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, facing charges of "propaganda" and "national security." Such charges carry the potential for a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Skyline International echoes the concerns raised by Human Rights Watch (HRW) regarding this matter. HRW has stressed that Iran's judiciary has resumed the practice of summoning and harassing journalists and human rights defenders, resorting to punitive measures against those who refuse to remain silent. Authorities have relentlessly prosecuted and punished individuals reporting on the social issues and grievances central to the recent protests.

Saeideh Shafie, an esteemed economic journalist associated with various Iranian newspapers, was arrested in Tehran in February and subsequently transferred to Evin prison. Fortunately, she was released in March upon posting bail amounting to 500 million tomans ($12,150). Shafie's charges are directly related to several articles she authored, addressing critical topics such as escalating poverty and the government's management of energy subsidies and public resources.

Mehrnoush Zarei, known for her coverage of healthcare and social issues in numerous Iranian media outlets, was arrested in Tehran in January and detained at Evin prison. However, she was released on bail in February. Zarei's charges stem from her thought-provoking articles on reproductive laws and the state of Iran's national parks.

Nasim Sultan Beigi, a prominent women's rights activist and journalist, faced arrest at Tehran's Khomeini International Airport in January when she attempted to leave the country. She was subsequently transferred to Evin prison before being released on bail in February, requiring a sum of 1 billion Tomans ($24,350). Sultan Beigi's charges revolve around her collaboration with both domestic and foreign media outlets. She has an extensive background working as a journalist for various Iranian publications.

Skyline International emphasizes that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a long-standing history of exploiting vaguely defined national security charges to target protesters, dissidents, and journalists, conducting trials that consistently fall far below international standards.

Skyline International's spokesperson states, "We implore the international community to prioritize cases involving journalists and human rights defenders in their engagement with Iran. States should vociferously demand that Iran abandon these groundless charges brought against journalists."

Over the past year, Iranians have united in a nationwide protest movement, advocating for fundamental economic, social, and political reforms. The women-led demonstrations were initially sparked by the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the "morality police" in September. Regrettably, the authorities responded to the protests with excessive and lethal force, resulting in the loss of more than 520 lives and the arbitrary detention of over 19,000 individuals, including dozens of journalists, according to activists. Biased trials have led to severe sentences, including the death penalty, for many protesters.

Skyline International stands in solidarity with Saeideh Shafie, Mehrnoush Zarei, Nasim Sultan Beigi, and all journalists who courageously exercise their right to freedom of speech. The organization calls upon Iranian authorities to immediately drop the charges against these women journalists and ensure that their rights are upheld in accordance with international standards.