US-Based Rights Group Decries Iran’s ‘False’ Claim Of Ties To Imprisoned Journalists


(RFE/RL) — The U.S.-based rights group United For Iran has rejected allegations by Tehran that it has collaborated with detained Iranian journalists Elahah Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi, calling the accusations “part of the Islamic republic’s long-standing tradition of crafting false narratives.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on October 23 released a video titled Khabarchin (The Informant), alleging collaboration between the group and journalists Mohammadi, Hamedi, and Ghoncheh Ghavami, editor of the Harassment Watch website.

However, in response, United For Iran categorically denied the allegations, saying it has never had any professional or personal relationships with Mohammadi, Hamedi, or Ghavami.

“They have never worked for United For Iran and have not received any money from this organization,” the group said in the statement.

“These claims are part of the Islamic republic’s long-standing tradition of creating such false narratives in line with the judiciary’s baseless cases against human rights defenders, activists, and journalists,” it added.

United For Iran is a nonprofit organization registered in the United States that was founded and is managed by activists, dissidents, and former Iranian political prisoners. According to its website, the group aims to advance civil liberties and human rights in Iran by strengthening its civil society, supporting freedom movements, and leveraging advanced research and technology.

Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court recently sentenced Mohammadi, a reporter for the Ham-Mihan newspaper, and Hamedi, a reporter for the Sharq newspaper, to 12 years and 13 years in prison, respectively, on charges including “collaborating with the hostile U.S. government,” “conspiracy against national security,” and “propaganda against the system.”

United For Iran also noted that the Harassment Watch website, led by former political prisoner Ghavami, operates independently and has no ties to its projects.

Hamedi took a photo of Mahsa Amini’s parents embracing in the Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma after she had been taken into police custody for an alleged head-scarf violation.

Hamedi’s post of the photo on Twitter was the first media mention of the case and one of her last posts before being arrested days later.

Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in her hometown of Saghez, which marked the beginning of the mass protests that swept the country following the 22-year-old’s death.

Both have been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since September 2022.

“In reality, Niloofar Hamedi and Elahah Mohammadi are only being punished for covering the news of Mahsa Amini’s murder by the Irshad Police and her funeral ceremony,” the United For Iran statement said.

“Niloofar Hamedi and Elahah Mohammadi are in prison based on baseless accusations. The judiciary must cancel these baseless accusations against [them] and other political prisoners.”

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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