By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
In a rare move, some of the reformist newspapers that were raided by Iranian security officials on January 27 and whose writers were detained have publicly protested against the crackdown.
On its front page, Iran's reformist "Shargh" daily objected to the arrest of one its staff members, journalist Pouria Alami.
In its January 30 issue, the newspaper published an empty space where Alami's column would usually have appeared and explained that "it will not be printed until further notice."
"Shargh" protested on its front page against the arrest of Pouria Alami.
Alami is one of more than a dozen journalists who were arrested over the weekend in an attempt to silence the reformist press ahead of the June 14 presidential vote. (Read more about the crackdown here.)
The "Bahar" daily, which also came under attack by the authorities, has also protested against the raids on newspapers and the arrest of journalists.
"Our journalists deserve respect," writes "Bahar."
The paper adds that it is not possible at this point to comment on the charges of "spying and ties with foreign news organizations" that have been brought against the detained journalists. It adds, however, that it is not clear how 14 journalists without any such backgrounds could suddenly have been detained on those charges.
"Bahar" writes that the detainees are all well-known journalists who have decided to remain in Iran and that they have been working with newspapers that have been legally published in the country for years, while being fully aware of the red lines that cannot be crossed in the Islamic republic.
"Therefore, it doesn't seem that they could come close to such charges," the paper says.
Journalists who have accepted to report in Iran under such difficult conditions and to work within the framework of Iranian law deserve respect, "Bahar" says.
Many Iranians have also protested against the arrests by posting pictures of the detained journalists on their Facebook pages.
In recent years, especially after the brutal crackdown that followed Iran's disputed 2009 presidential vote, dozens of journalists and bloggers have been either jailed or forced to leave the country.
Journalism is one of the most dangerous and difficult professions in the Islamic republic. The renewed press crackdown highlights this fact.
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