Reporters Without Borders has protested against the unfair closure of satellite TV al-Jazeera's Tehran bureau for "incitement to disorder" after it reported on clashes in Khuzistan in southern Iran. It urged the authorities to review its 18 April decision.
"We condemn the decision of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry to suspend al-Jazeera's operations in Iran," it said. "The authorities cannot shut down a channel just because it gives airtime to the opposition."
"They have had the Arabic-language news channel in their sights for more than a year and have never let up on threats to restrict its work in the country," the worldwide press freedom organisation added.
Al-Jazeera was one of the first channels to cover the clashes on 15 April and to report that there had been deaths and injuries. Two days later, the al-Jazeera bureau in Tehran was given verbal notice of a decision to suspend its work.
The authorities said the suspension would last until they were able to investigate the channel's role in the clashes. Al-Jazeera has been accused of "inciting subversive elements to unleash disorder".
Al-Jazeera spokesman, Jihad Ballout, told Reporters Without Borders that the channel viewed the Iranian authorities' accusations as "baseless".
Tehran previously threatened to sanction the Qatari-based channel in November 2004 if it failed to remove a cartoon viewed as insulting from its website. It received a second threat of expulsion shortly afterwards for having referred to the "Arabic" and not the Persian Gulf.
... Payvand News - 4/21/05 ... --