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Call for four banned Iranian dailies to reopen

Reporters Without Borders has called for four banned reformist dailies, Eghbal, Aftabyazd, Hayat No and Eqbal to be allowed to reopen. They were banned on 20 June 2005 after carrying a letter from a candidate alleging fraud in the first round of the presidential elections.

"Banning newspapers simply for publishing a letter from a candidate, does not bode well for the future of press freedom in Iran after the election," the press freedom organisation.

"We urge the authorities to revoke these suspensions that seriously damage the debate of ideas that is essential in an election period."

Mehri Karubi, beaten candidate in the first round on 19 June, sent an open letter to the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, complaining of "illegal interventions" by the Guardians of the Revolution and Islamist militia during the elections, with his consent. He also called for a recount of votes in some constituencies.

A few hours after the letter was published by the main news websites, such as that of the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA) and the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), it was pulled. On the morning of 20 June, Tehran's prosecutor-general ordered a halt to printing of the three newspapers which had also published the letter. Scores of publications have recently been closed for criticism of the Supreme Guide.

"This decision once again comes from the national security high commission which, under the control of President Khatami, sets limits not be crossed by newspapers on a daily basis and which Reporters Without Borders has recently asked to halt its abusive interventions."

Elsewhere the journalist Akbar Ganji and the lawyer Nasser Zarafshan, still on hunger strike to demand medical care, have not yet succeeded and are at risk of dying.

... Payvand News - 6/22/05 ... --

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