The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has strongly condemned the sentencing of Iranian journalist Masoud Kazemi on national security charges and called for his immediate release.
Kazemi on June 3 was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for "spreading misinformation" and "insulting" the country's supreme leader and authorities. He was also banned from "media activities" for two years, according to his lawyer, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, quoted by IRNA news agency.
The journalist was a reporter for the reformist daily Shargh and also the editor in chief of Seda-ye Parsi monthly magazine, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.
The state-run Iran newspaper reported on May 23 that Kazemi had been arrested the previous day, without specifying the charges against him.
"With this heavy prison sentence, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps is clearly signaling that any journalist who reports on government corruption will face a similar fate," CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said in a statement.
Kazemi was initially arrested in November after security forces raided his home and confiscated laptops and other materials, but was granted bail, according to his lawyer.
He arrived at a Tehran Revolutionary Guards court on May 22 to stand trial on anti-state propaganda charges.
At the hearing, the judge announced new charges against Kazemi, including acting against national security and colluding against national security, according to his lawyer.
Eight journalists were found to be imprisoned in Iran in direct relation to their work at the time of CPJ's annual prison census on December 1, 2018.