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Three Iranian Journalists Convicted Of Defamation, Spreading False News

Iran -- Jailed female journalists, 2019. FILE PHOTO

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is urging the Iranian authorities to drop the cases against the editors of three news outlets convicted of defamation and spreading false news.

Tehran's Media Court on February 2 found three editors in chief of the semiofficial ISNA news agency, the Bultannews news website, and the energy news website NeftEMA guilty of the charges, according to the official judicial news agency, Mizan.

"If the Iranian government has a credible case against the editors of ISNA, NeftEMA, and Bultannews, they should try them openly and publicly," Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement on February 3.

"Closed-door trials of journalists cannot be considered fair or impartial," Mansour said, adding that the Iranian judiciary had "a history of holding opaque judicial proceedings that lack credibility."

Neither the court nor Mizan's report disclosed the names of those convicted, details surrounding the case, or the potential sentences the editors may receive. It was unclear whether they were being held in custody.

Mizan quoted Ahmad Momenirad, the spokesman of Iran's Media Court system, as saying that the ISNA and Bultannews editors were eligible to be spared from sentencing, without explaining why.

According to ISNA, the case is related to a complaint filed by a subsidiary of the Oil Ministry against NeftEMA, accusing its editor in chief of "spreading misinformation, defamation, and insult."