By Leyla Tayeri,
Iran's supreme national security council on Friday issued a directive banning all newspapers from publishing any news regarding the deeply contested June 12 two presidential elections and the two contenders who have been most critical of the official results, namely Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.
This directive comes in light of the fact that since the days before the June 12 elections, Mousavi and Karoubi were under severe news-boycott by the national state run radio and television network, while their own media outlets were shut. Government media which were under the strong influence of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supporters did not have the other presidential candidates any opportunity and pro-government media continued their attacks and destructive coverage of the former Prime Minister and former head of the Majlis, without receiving any official reprimand for their professional bias.
Yas newspaper which was supposed to be Mousavi's news outlet prior to the elections and was expected to present his views was shut by Tehran's prosecutor general, even though it was temporarily allowed to publish.
Etemad Melli newspaper, the official paper of Karoubi's National Trust party, was also shut on orders of Tehran's prosecutor. Furthermore, the editor and other journalists of the paper were arrested. Before being banned, a day after the elections a team from the prosecutor's office invaded Etemad Melli newspaper and set up office at the printing offices, beginning their work of censorship of the daily.
After the June 12 elections, many journalists who held views close to these two presidential candidates were arrested on warrants issued by Tehran's former prosecutor and many of them such as Issa Saharkhiz, Ahmad Zeidabadi, Saeed Leylaz, Mohammad Atrianfar, Mohammad Ghoochani, Bahman Ahmadi Amooyi, and Hengameh Shahidi, among others, are still behind bars. Kalameh Ghalam News websites that published the views of Mousavi too were driven out when their journalists and editors were arrested. Kalameh, which published Mousavi's views, returned to the news world last week by hosting itself from a different site, but was blocked by the government two days ago.
This directive from the national security council is not the first instance of this body's interference in media affairs. In 2001, after ayatollah Taheri resigned from his post as Friday prayer in Isfahan, it issued a directive banning newspapers from publishing the ayatollah's resignation letter. In protest, Nowrooz newspaper edited by Mohsen Mirdamadi, published its next issue with blank white pages carrying just one message on its pages: This page has been deleted because of the directive of the supreme national security council.
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