Reuters found guilty in Iran 'ninja' case


A group of Iranian female martial artists like the ones shown here are lashing out against Reuters for a recent report labeling them as "assassins."


Atta Kenare

A Tehran jury on Sunday found news agency Reuters guilty of the crime of "propaganda against the regime" for a report mischaracterizing female ninja students as assassins.

Reuters was also found guilty of "publishing false information in an effort to disturb public opinion" over the same video report, which was published in February, according to Agence France-Presse. A final verdict and sentencing are now in the hands of the Tehran judge presiding over the case. He is expected to do some in coming weeks, but a specific date was not made public. Reuters can appeal a conviction.

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Parisa Hafezi is Reuters's bureau chief in Tehran. She referred CNN to Thompson Reuters, based in London, for a statement. In a story about the verdict on its website, Reuters said, "We understand that the jury has stated its view and we now await the court's ruling. We do not intend to comment further until a decision is issued."

Ali Akbar Kasaeian, spokesman for the court panel, said Hafezi was the one specifically convicted for the video, which initially had a headline saying the women were training as ninja "assassins," reported the Associated Press. The headline was corrected, but it led to the suspension of the Reuters bureau in Tehran in March. Most of the Reuters staff moved to Dubai, but Hafezi, an Iranian national, was not allowed to leave the country.