Iranian journalist imprisoned, fired, and forced into exile over a single word
Authorities had summoned Khoshhal on several occasions over his work, including a piece about babies born to imprisoned women. But despite Ebtekar correcting the article the following day and issuing a statement announcing that it had dismissed the journalist, authorities detained Khoshhal for two months, including 10 days in solitary confinement. When he was released on bail, guards ordered him to quit journalism and move away if “[he] wanted a quiet life,” Khoshhal said.
On December 15, 2018, the judiciary charged Khoshhal with “encouraging the public to commit crimes against Islamic values,” “insulting Islamic values,” and “insulting the divinity of Imam Hussein and other members of the Prophet’s blessed family.”
Ultimately, he was sentenced to six years in prison, a verdict that Tehran’s Appeal Court upheld on July 9, 2019, with neither Khoshhal or his lawyer present. Fearing for his life and unwilling to serve such a harsh sentence over a single published word, Khoshhal said that he fled into exile.
Iran’s repressive treatment of journalists has led many to go into exile. Most independent journalists find the choices stifling: work for censored state-run outlets or risk being imprisoned for their work. After fleeing Iran, often having to cross borders illegally or slip away while on trips abroad—like Iranian state news agency journalist Amir Tohid Fazel, whose escape on a government trip to Sweden in August was reported by CNN—they are presented with new challenges including proving the threats against them when applying for asylum and being able to continue work as a journalist.
Khoshhal spoke with CPJ in November 2019 about his arrest and the hard decision to leave his family behind to seek safety in exile.
Read more at: CPJ
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