Zhila Bani-Yaghoub is an award-winning journalist and women’s rights activist living in Iran. Baniyaghoob is married to fellow journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amou’i, an editor at Sarmayeh, a business newspaper.
Beginning in June 2009, Iran saw widespread protests following a disputed election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected amid allegations of voter fraud. On the night of 20 June, both Baniyaghoob and her husband were arrested at their home by plainclothes police officers, as part of a general crackdown on journalists. Amou’i was jailed that year on charges of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system”, “disrupting public security” and “insulting the president”.
In 2010, Baniyaghoob was tried and convicted for “spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the president”. The court banned her from practicing journalism for thirty years and sentenced her to a year in prison.
She was released two months later, but her husband remained in prison where he is serving a five-year prison sentence after conviction of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system”, “disrupting public security” and “insulting the president”.
On 2 September 2012, she was summoned to Evin Prison to begin the sentence. Amnesty International designated her a prisoner of conscience, “held solely for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression”, and called for her to be released and allowed to resume her profession.