An Iranian journalist who reported on the death of Mahsa Amini has been thrown into solitary confinement, with no information about the charges against her, amid a major crackdown on the press in the country.

Niloufar Hamedi, a reporter at the Tehran-based Shargh newspaper, was among the first to write about Amini, 22, who fell into a coma and died on September 16 after Iran’s morality police apprehended her and brought her to a “re-education” center for not wearing her hijab properly. Authorities say Amini died after a heart attack, but her family says she had no prior health problems and accuse the police of beating her.

The 22-year-old’s death ignited massive protests across Iran, organized primarily by women, whose rights have been heavily restricted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Her name has also gained global recognition, with world leaders condemning her death and the subsequent violence toward protesters. “We call on the Iranian authorities to hold an independent, impartial, and prompt investigation,” experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said in a statement last week.

Hamedi took a photograph that went viral of Amini’s grief-stricken parents hugging in the hospital, according to the news site IranWire, which wrote about the reporter’s incarceration on Monday. At least 18 journalists have been arrested in Iran since the demonstrations began, according to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists. Press freedom groups have called for their immediate release. “They were doing their jobs,” the Association of Iranian Journalists said in a statement. The country has also experienced a near internet shutdown and disruptions to phone and social media networks that have made it more difficult to share news. “[T]he Iranian authorities are sending a clear message that there must be no coverage of the protests,” the Middle East desk of Reporters Without Borders, another nonprofit, said in a statement. “We demand the immediate release of these journalists and the immediate lifting of all restrictions on Iranians’ right to be informed.”  

Samantha Michaels

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