Tehran, July 12, IRNA-President Mohammad Khatami said on Tuesday that any action against freedom of press would be against social progress.
The outgoing president said in his address to journalists of Iran Cultural and Press Institute (ICPI) affiliated to IRNA that unfortunately, many cases of irrational and unjustified attitude against freedom of the press have been observed in the past eight years.
The president appreciated part of the press which patiently and courageously went through high cost (being subject to judicial prosecution) to promote spirituality as well as the ethics and culture of democracy in the community and did their best to keep the people informed and encouraged the government to accept criticism.
He thanked all the journalists involved in analyzing and disseminating the latest developments in line with the policy of reformist government.
"I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the journalists opposing and criticizing the government, since if it were not for their sake, the present enthusiasm and constant process of reform would not have been materialized.
"Many publications even had to pay a high price to this end and even dozens of newspapers were closed temporarily which turned, in fact, forever," he added.
Referring to sufferings of journalists in absence of freedom of the press, Khatami noted that hundreds of persistent and hard-working individuals deeply concerned with culture faced dilemmas and charges they had never committed, were unemployed and lost their jobs.
He said that journalists are the elites and that it should be remembered that the most educated and ethical groups of the community whose standards of life is lower than that of the average social classes, are working in that profession.
"Journalists and reporters are among the social classes whose salaries are not sufficient and just work because they love their job.
They even lost their job on account of improper approaches and this made them face many problems.
"I did my best to improve the press. I managed to succeed in some instances, while in other cases my efforts failed. I hope that the government has learned the lesson that being too strict will lead to an undesired result.
Turning to the recent presidential election and the expected takeover of the cabinet, Khatami hoped that the new president-elect would succeed in responding to people's expectations and demands.
President Khatami praised Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi for the new strategy he outlined for the Judiciary apparatus saying that Ayatollah Shahroudi has admitted that journalists would no longer be exposed to prison terms.
Khatami quoted Ayatollah Shahroudi as saying that in case of disciplinary action against journalists, they will no longer be sentenced to prison terms.
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