Iranian journalist Mohammad Mosaed has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison in what the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) described as a further attempt by the authorities to try to "suppress the truth."
Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Court also banned Mosaed from conducting journalism activities and from using all communications devices for two years, the journalist tweeted on September 2.
"From the judge's point of view my media activity is 'creating crisis,' 'instigating an empty-minded audience,' and 'distorting reality,'" wrote Mosaed, a freelance economic reporter who will be honored with the CPJ's 2020 International Press Freedom Award in November.
Mosaed has previously received DW's Freedom of Speech Award.
CPJ “strongly condemns” the harsh sentence handed down to Mosaed for “simply informing Iranians about events of national importance,” the New York based media-freedom watchdog's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement.
“Accusing Mosaed of creating a crisis through his reporting is just the latest in the Iranian government's hypocritical approach to journalism. Banning Mosaed from using communication devices is a farcical punishment in 2020 but reflects just how desperate the government is to suppress the truth," Mansour added.
CPJ quoted a source familiar with the case as saying that Mosaed was sentenced on August 25, a week after being charged with "colluding against national security" and "spreading propaganda against the system."
Mosaed and his lawyer plan to appeal the sentence, according to the source, who said the journalist was charged in connection with two past arrests.
He was first detained in November last year, after he posted on Twitter during an Internet shutdown implemented by the government amid widespread protests over high gas prices.
Mosaed was transferred to Evin prison, where he was held for 16 days before he was released on bail.
And in February, he was arrested again and detained for several hours after he posted criticism of the government on social media, according to the CPJ. While he was in custody, authorities ordered him to delete his Telegram channel and suspended his Twitter account.
CPJ will honor Mosaed and three other International Press Freedom awardees on November 19 at a virtual annual benefit gala due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The other awardees who have been "arrested or faced criminal prosecution in reprisal for their reporting" are Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva, Shahidul Alam of Bangladesh, and Dapo Olorunyomi of Nigeria.