By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmud Alavi says there is "no need" for media to publish details of cases of economic corruption. Alavi, who was speaking on January 14 to Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency, added that the coverage of corruption cases by the media could hurt investment in the country.
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmud Alavi
source: Etemaad daily
"There is no need to publish instances of action against corruption in the media," Alavi told Mehr. "Covering these cases affects investment's security instead of harnessing corruption."
It wasn't clear whether the comments would lead to more red lines for Iran's newspapers, which already face limitations in what and how they can cover sensitive issues, including the nuclear dossier.
In recent weeks, Iranian press and websites have been publishing details of alleged business dealings by Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani, who was arrested late last month for what has been described as "financial crimes."
His arrest came following an order by President Hassan Rohani to fight financial corruption particularly among "privileged figures" who have taken advantage of economic sanctions Iran is facing over its sensitive nuclear program.
Zanjani has been accused of evading sanctions through his network of companies in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Tajikistan. Zanjani, who is reportedly being held at Tehran's Evin prison, has been blacklisted by the United States and the European Union.
When asked about Zanjani's case and whether his ministry has sent a report to the judiciary, Alavi gave a vague answer: "A case is being reviewed by the judiciary, until this body issues a verdict, someone who has been merely charged with a crime, should not be presented as a criminal and be reflected as such in the media."
Alavi also said he couldn't comment on whether his ministry has reported on an alleged criminal case against 24 members of the previous government. "I can't comment on this yet," he said.
In 2012, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told media "not to drag out" on financial corruption. Khamenei was speaking about the Islamic republic'slargest bank-fraud case, which was estimated at $2.6 billion.
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