Friday, April 11, 2008
Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance suspends more newspapers8 April 2008
Reporters Without Borders condemns the arbitrary suspension of four newspapers on 6 April for “failing to publish regularly.” It brings the number of newspapers banned by the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance since the start of the year to 17.
The press freedom organisation also deplores the intelligence ministry’s repeated harassment of the wife of Afghan journalist Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, who has been imprisoned in the city of Qom, 150 km southwest of Tehran, since 4 March.
“The independent media are regularly subjected to arbitrary treatment by the authorities, who take advantage of repressive laws to silence them,” the organisation said. “The ban on these four publications is just the latest example. At the same time, the security apparatus imposes silence on the families of imprisoned journalists. Those who report the arrests of a relative to the media, especially the foreign media, are exposing themselves to the possibility of punishment.”
The four publications banned on 6 April by the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, were Sobh Varzesh, Imen Gostar, Laleh and Gozineh Pjoheshjar Jahan. The ban was imposed under article 16 of the press law, which sanctions “publishing irregularly.”
Nasab’s wife, Sahar Mohaqiq Nasab, was threatened by intelligence ministry agents and was told she would be arrested herself if she kept asking for news about him. She still does not know what her husband, the publisher of the monthly Haqoq-e-Zan (Farsi for “Women’s Rights”) is charged with. He is not being allowed visits and has not yet been able to see a lawyer. The special religious court that is to try him has not approved the lawyers proposed by the Association for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are both on the list of “Press Freedom Predators” which Reporters Without Borders updates every year.