Iranian reporter sentenced to two years in prison and 50 lashes

Marzieh Rasouli is the latest journalist imprisoned by Islamic republic for 'spreading propaganda' against the government

An Iranian journalist has been sentenced to 50 lashes and two years in prison over charges of spreading anti-government propaganda in the latest incident of Iran's crackdown on the independent media.

Marzieh Rasouli reported to Evin prison in Tehran on Tuesday, where she became the latest of dozens of journalists imprisoned by the Islamic republic, which has been branded as one of the world's worst jailer of journalists by the New York Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Her arrest followed the detention in recent months of a number of other Iranian journalists, including Saba Azarpeik , who was being held incommunicado, and Reyhaneh Tabatabaei.

As president Hassan Rouhani pursues a reconciliatory foreign policy, hardliners in the country's judiciary and the revolutionary guards appear to be tightening their grip on domestic social and cultural norms.

The young female journalist was jailed to endure her conviction on charges of "spreading propaganda" against the ruling system and "disturbing the public order", the Guardian has understood. On the previous day, Rasouli had also announced on her Twitter account that she had been informed of her sentence and was expected to go to jail.

Rasouli, a well-known writer on the arts and culture for a number of reformists newspapers including Shargh and Etemaad, was initially arrested in January 2012 as the authorities launched a crackdown before the parliamentary elections at the time. She was later released after posting a large bail with the prison authorities.

According to the Reporters Without Borders, Rasouli and at least two other Iranian journalists, Parastoo Dokouhaki and Sahamoldin Borghani, were accused by hardliners of collaborating with the BBC, which Iran conservatives see as a tool of British espionage.

Rasouli has previously edited the music pages of Shargh Daily, a leading reformist newspaper which has been closed down repeatedly in recent years. She has also worked for the reformist newspapers Etemaad and Roozegar.

CPJ's Jason Stern told the Guardian he was shocked by Rasouli's imprisonment.

"The sad truth is the imprisonment of journalists by the dozens has become normal for Iran ever since the government launched an unprecedented crackdown on the press after the 2009 elections," he said.

"That crackdown has not slowed in the past year, with CPJ documenting a series of arrests and prosecutions of journalists. Now Iran is on track to reclaim the title of the world's worst jailer of journalists this year."


Saeed Kamali Dehghan

The GuardianTramp

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