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President Khatami opposed to crackdown on journalists

Tehran, Jan 29, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami here on Wednesday voiced opposition to crackdown on journalists from news media in conducting interviews with members of cabinet.

Such a limitation was imposed last week by the Presidential Office to prevent disorder caused by reporters.

Based on the new decision, the journalists wishing to conduct interviews with ministers and other cabinet members should stand at a certain place in the open air and wait to be called, which makes them face some difficulties.

News media reporters who have been refusing to approach any cabinet members for interview since last week, discussed the issue with President Khatami and a few ministers.

Asked if he agreed with such limitation, the president announced his opposition.

Another reporter pointing to the metal rods and red ribbons, behind which the reporters were supposed to stand waiting for interviews, said, "Mr. President, a red line is imposed on the media."

Once President Khatami replied, "Break the artificial red lines", the reporters pushed aside the obstacles and encircled the president once more.

The smiling president then told reporters to watch out the red line of national security.

Asked to express his view on the recent charges levelled by U.S. President George Bush against Iran, the president said that he has not yet had time to examine the issue.

A number of ministers including the Minister of Industries and Mines Eshaq Jahangiri, Interior Minister Mousavi Lari and Energy Minister Habibollah Bitaraf voiced their surprise at hearing about such limitations.

Government Speaker Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, addressing a press conference last Wednesday, apologized for the inconvenience caused for the reporters wishing to interview with cabinet members.

He had insisted, "Measures should be taken to ensure not only the security required by the presidential office, but to enable journalists to proceed with their duties smoothly."

... Payvand News - 1/30/03 ... --

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