Two renowned Iranian sports journalists Saeed Zahedian and Naeem Ahmadi who are in Australia to cover the Women’s World Cup have no plan to return to their home country and will seek asylum abroad.
Saeed Zahedian, the chief sports editor of Iran Newspaper, a government-affiliated publication, and Naeem Ahmadi, a renowned sports photojournalist for the same newspaper, revealed their plans to apply for asylum in Australia, as reported by Iran International.
Both Zahedian and Ahmadi hold esteemed positions in Iran’s sports media landscape, with Iran Sports Daily being one of the most popular newspapers in the country, and Ahmadi being recognized as one of Iran’s best sports photographers.
The decision of these journalists to seek asylum in Australia comes amid a backdrop of increasing pressure on media personnel in Iran. Recently, two Iranian female journalists were arrested during anti-regime protests and subsequently sentenced to three years and seven months in prison.
Their opposition to compulsory hijab during court proceedings further fueled controversy, drawing attention from the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
Behrooz Behzadi, the editor in charge of Etemad newspaper, also faced consequences for his journalistic work. In his late 70s, Behzadi was accused of publishing false content following a complaint by the Revolutionary Guard Corps and was banned from engaging in any press activity for one year.
These repressive actions against journalists have drawn condemnation from various quarters, including the Tehran Journalists’ Association. The association publicly denounced the imposition of “heavy and unconventional judicial sentences against journalists” and called on the judicial system to halt such practices.
Iran’s track record as a major oppressor of the media has long been a matter of international concern. However, the recent wave of repression has escalated notably since the nationwide uprising against the regime.