Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned as "unacceptable" the Iranian regime's suspension of two leading reformist daily newspapers Vaghayeh Ettefaghieh and Jomhouriat as well as the monthly Aftab and said the moves appeared to herald a new wave of repression. It called for the suspensions to be lifted at once.
It said the shutdown of the dailies was an example of the "deplorable blackmail used by Iran's so-called system of justice" and "the determination of the regime's hardliners to silence any source of independent information, especially during the sham trial of the alleged killer of Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi."
Vaghayeh ettefaghieh was suspended indefinitely on 17 July for "anti-regime propaganda," publishing "false news" and "insulting the Supreme Guide." The paper, largely staffed by journalists from the reformist daily Yas-e no, which was suspended on 18 February on the eve of parliamentary elections, has sharply criticised the hardliners and the new parliament dominated by their supporters.
Jomhouriat, a new paper which has only published 12 issues, was suspended on 18 July for the same reasons, a few days after publisher Javad Khorami Moaghadam had been summoned by the hardline Teheran prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, who demanded in vain that he sack the paper's editor, Emadoldin Baghi.
Baghi, who the authorities frequently summon in an effort to silence him, was given a year's suspended prison sentence on 4 December last year by the Teheran revolutionary court, which cited no reason for the punishment. He was sentenced to three years in prison on 23 October 2000 for "undermining national security" and "putting out false news.Ó
Since his release on 6 February 2003, he has been an active human rights campaigner, attacking in the reformist press freedom of expression violations and setting up an organisation to defend political prisoners. On 15 July, Jomhouriat had begun publishing the general introduction of the latest Reporters Without Borders annual report.
The monthly Aftab was suspended on 11 July for "insulting the Supreme Guide" and putting out "false news." It has been published since 2000 by a group of writers and intellectuals and editor Issa Sahakhiz, was arrested in 2003 for "propaganda against the regime."
... Payvand News - 7/21/04 ... --