Iran: journalist who broke news on Mahsa Amini pays heavy price

Iran's riot police forces stand in a street in Tehran, Iran October 3, 2022. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Niloofar Hamedi, an Iranian journalist specialising in women's rights, got away with hard-hitting stories for years - until the day she took a photo of Mahsa Amini's parents hugging each other in a Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma.

The photo, which Hamedi posted on Twitter on Sept. 16, was the first sign to the world that all was not well with 22-year-old Amini, who had been detained three days earlier by Iran's morality police for what they deemed inappropriate dress.

Amini's death later that day would unleash a wave of mass protests across Iran that were still persisting nearly three weeks later in different parts of the country, despite a government crackdown.

The photo of Amini's parents was also one of the last things Hamedi, who worked for the pro-reform Sharq daily, would post before she was arrested some days later and her Twitter account listed as suspended.

"This morning, intelligence agents raided my client Niloofar Hamedi's house, arrested her, searched her house, and confiscated her belongings," Hamedi's lawyer Mohammad Ali Kamfirouzi tweeted on Sept. 22.

Hamedi has not been charged and is being held in solitary confinement in Iran's Evin prison, he wrote.

Facing one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, the authorities have used force to suppress the biggest public show of dissent in years.