On 8 January, a Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed a few minutes after taking off from Tehran airport. All 176 people on board were killed. At first, the official state version claimed the crash was due to a technical failure and dismissed reports of a missile strike, as it was established to be the case a few days after.
For three days, Iranian officials imposed their narrative over the crash on state-owned media, even referring to those who questioned it as “enemy agents”. When a top official of the Iranian aerospace forces said the plane was shot down by a short-range missile “by mistake”, the admission provoked a huge media trust crisis in Iran.
"While people were watching the shameful headlines of some of the media for allegedly plotting a missile crash on the stalls, they were simultaneously reading through the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces and the President’s Office admitting the rocket fire," the Tehran Association of Journalists said in a statement, describing the day as “the disaster day for media”.
At least two presenters working for the Iranian state broadcaster IRIB have resigned and apologised for the lies. One of the anchors, Saba Rad, said: “Thank you for your support in all years of my career. I announce that after 21 years working in radio and TV, I cannot continue my work in the media. I cannot.”
On top of this, authorities shutdown critical media websites that demanded the resignation of officials, such as Entekhab media.
The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “This incident shows that journalists and the Iranian public have lost confidence in the Iranian authorities to tell the truth. We support Iranian journalists that work in total independence and to report on facts. The IFJ will always stand in solidarity with them.”