Foreign Policy Blogs

Banned from Journalism for 30 Years

The power of the pen is most obvious when dictatorships try to silence writers and journalists.

Ms. Jila Baniyaghoob, a 39 year-old Iranian journalist, is a sad case of this.

On June 9 she was sentenced to one year in jail and banned from writing for 30 years by the Iranian government. Baniyaghoob’s sentence came out of post-election unrest in Iran in June 2009, during which time she was jailed. She was released on bail in August.

She was not the only journalist targeted in the bloody aftermath of the 2009 Iranian presidential election. But her sentence to stop writing is telling about how far the Iranian regime will go to silence its critics.

Attempting to ban a journalist from writing for 30 years is a weak attempt to control not only an individual’s life, but their very thoughts. For a journalist passionate about their work, and in a place like Iran with so much to say, trying to stop a reporter from reporting is like trying to stop the wind from blowing.

It’s hard to imagine how the government will ultimately be successful, except for fostering greater resolve on the part of journalists themselves to speak out and expose their crimes.

In 2009,  Baniyaghoob won a Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation. Her husband is also a journalist, and has been jailed for five years for his work.



Genevieve Belmaker

Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist and contributing editor with The Epoch Times ( She also contributes to Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists and Her blog on journalism is

Genevieve has traveled throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America, Israel and the West Bank for reporting assignments, including major investigative reports on the recovery of New Orleans, the encroaching presence of China in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the dangerous import of melamine-contaminated milk into the U.S. and settlement outposts in the West Bank. She regularly reports on issues related to journalism, and the work of journalists.

She holds a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations, and has been a member of several prominent national and international professional media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the New York Press Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and son.

Areas of Focus:
New Media; Journalism; Culture and Society