Iran sentenced opposition journalist Marzieh Rasouli to 50 lashes and two years in prison Tuesday, the latest in a series of arrests and threats against Iran's independent media. Rasouli is a well-known arts and culture writer for Iran's embattled reformist newspapers like Shargh and Etemaad.
Iranian security officials first arrested Rasouli in January 2012 during a media crackdown preceding parliamentary elections. She spent nearly six weeks in prison in solitary confinement before being released on bail. In February this year, officials finally formally charged Rasouli with spreading anti-government propaganda.
Rasouli was in the midst of appealing the sentence when she announced Monday via Twitter (which is technically banned in Iran) that she had been summoned to Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
As the news spread, friends and supporters denounced her detention and expressed their support on Twitter. She arrived in prison on Tuesday to begin her sentence.
Iran is one of the top jailers of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Some analysts attribute this recent crackdown on the media to a division between President Hassan Rouhani — elected in 2013 on a reformist agenda — and members of Iran's conservative judiciary, who are opposed to Rouhani's calls for reforms. Rouhani and other key members of his administration have publicly called for some loosening of Iran's tight media controls; human rights activists, however, have criticized Rouhani for continuing to oversee assaults on media freedoms despite his promising rhetoric.