Rasoul Montajeb-Nia, the publisher of 'Nassim- Saba', said in Tehran on Tuesday that threatening the print media with closure and writing letters to restrict their activities is against the Constitution, IRNA reported.
Montajeb-Nia, in an interview with IRNA, said the performance of newspapers in covering the developments of the upcoming Majlis elections was merely part of their duty to disseminate news to the public.
The publisher of 'Nassim-e Saba' was reacting to a recent letter by Tehran Public Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi to Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ahmad Masjed-Jamei to serve a notice on eight newspapers for their performance on disseminating news about the elections.
The newspapers included Sharq, Yass-e No, Nassim-e Saba, Tosse'eh, Aftab-e Yazd, Etemad, Hambastegi and Mardomsalari.
Montajeb-Nia said the minimum undertaking that the Constitution has authorized for the newspapers concerning the elections is to provide transparent news and inform the people of the current issues. He added that if the newspapers are barred from this, then there will be nothing left for them to do.
Montajeb-Nia further said that according to the Constitution if any offense is committed regarding the elections, it is the job of the Interior Ministry, and not the Judiciary, to act on the offense.
"The involvement of the Judiciary in the affairs related to the elections is tantamount to disregarding the position of the Interior Ministry," he said.
"Any measure to restrict the activities of the press ... will only complicate the problems ... and will do nothing to resolve them."
Sohofi says dailies just 'did their job' on election news
Deputy Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister for press affairs Mohammad Sohofi said in Tehran on Tuesday that nothing beyond the dissemination of information has been noticed in the performance of Iranian dailies in the past three weeks in covering the developments on the upcoming Majlis elections.
Sohofi told IRNA that Tehran Public Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi in a letter to Culture Minister Ahmad Masjed-Jamei had called for serving notice to publishers of eight newspapers for their performance on disseminating news about the elections.
He listed the newspapers as Sharq, Yass-e No, Nassim-e Saba, Tosse'eh, Aftab-e Yazd, Etemad, Hambastegi and Mardomsalari.
Sohofi said the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in response to Mortazavi's letter had stressed that it is the Interior Ministry that holds the elections and can decide which print media has committed an offense in that connection.
"It has been stressed in the letter that the newspapers in the past three weeks have done their job, and it has been stressed that he task of newspapers is to disseminate information and no case beyond this has been noticed," he added.
"It was also stressed in the letter that if there needs to be any special restriction on news dissemination by newspapers, the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) must inform the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance of the criteria for such restriction."
Sohofi added that the Culture Ministry has still received no directive from the SNSC to that effect.
He also said that Mortazavi had in his letter accused the eight newspapers of spreading discord, stressing that the Culture Ministry had accordingly urged the prosecutor to present examples of his argument in that connection to the Press Supervisory Board.
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