The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has announced Iran as one of the top ten countries practicing media censorship and persecution against independent journalists, the official website of the organisation based in New York said in a press release on Sunday September 10th.
The report coincides with international and Iranian human rights organisations’ condemnation of the Iranian judiciary in handing out harsh sentences of long years’ imprisonment against journalists who covered the protests of workers’ rights at the Haft Tappeh sugar mill that broke out in 2017. Four journalists and three labour rights activists were sentenced to between six and 18 years in prison and 74 lashes.
Issuing press releases to condemn the Iranian sentences, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), and the National Council of Resistance of Iran each expressed solidarity with the victims over the sentences handed by the Iran’s revolutionary court. They highlighted the necessity of the international community’s role in condemning the Iranian violation of human rights and clampdown of freedom of expression.
Iran follows untraditional oppression method which relies on intelligent online filtering and security monitoring of the individuals in the field of media.
“Iran's government jails journalists, blocks websites, and maintains a climate of fear with harassment and surveillance, including of journalists' families. Domestic media must adhere to tight government controls,” the CPJ report said.
“Authorities arrest and impose harsh prison sentences on journalists who cover topics deemed sensitive, including local corruption and protests. The government suppresses online expression by spying on domestic and international journalists, jamming satellite television broadcasts, and blocking millions of websites and key social media platforms,” the CPJ report added.
In late 2017 and early 2018, when national protests broke out against the Iranian government, authorities shut down the internet and mobile networks, according to Reuters. The National Cyberspace Council has banned Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, along with the messaging apps Telegram and WhatsApp; but these are accessible via VPNs, according to Bloomberg.
An example of Iranian aggression against anti-government journalists is Yashar Soltani who was sentenced to five years in prison for writing an article about financial corruption in Tehran municipality.