The head of Reuters' Tehran bureau chief Parisa Hafezi could be looking at jail time after a special media court found her guilty of "spreading lies" with a February video about Iranian women in martial arts training. The headline to the accompanying story originally said "Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran's assassins" before Reuters toned it down read "Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran," after the martial arts club where the video was filmed complained to the Irani government that it was inaccurate. It turns out that these women weren't actually training to become throwing star-toting, samurai sword-swinging killers. They were just looking for a creative way to get into shape.
This sort of offense is taken pretty seriously in Iran. When the story first stirred up trouble earlier this year, Iran stripped all of Reuters journalists their of their press credentials and ejected them from the country. With the exception of Hafezi, an Iranian citizen, the whole bureau has been working from Dubai for the past eight months. Hafezi stayed behind to face the music and now awaits sentencing and a final verdict from a judge which is scheduled for later this week. Hafezi was found guilty of "propaganda against the regime" and "publishing false information in an effort to disturb public opinion." The punishment for similar media-related offenses by local media outlets include fines or imprisonment.
Let it be known that Iran is not embarrassed about its female ninjas. In fact, they seem quite proud. The state-run station Press TV even ran a special about the trend not too long ago. And frankly, it looks kind of awesome.