Liberal Opposition Journalist Arrested; Another Reformist Organ Shut Down

Click here to read more about press freedom conditions in IRAN

New York, August 7, 2000 — A bill to reform Iran’s harsh press laws was quashed on Sunday by the country’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The next day, a liberal opposition journalist was arrested, according to wire service reports.

Also on Monday, according to wire service reports, a pro-reform weekly, Cheshmeh Ardebil, was suspended for four months on charges of “disturbing public opinion.”

The press reform bill had been introduced by parliamentary delegates who support President Mohammed Khatami’s agenda of social and political liberalization.

The legislation was proposed in response to the current restrictive press code, passed last March by the outgoing parliament. Since January, conservative elements in the Iranian judiciary have ordered the closure of 22 newspapers and magazines–all but one of which backed President Mohammed Khatami’s reformist agenda–in a sweeping crackdown on the reformist press.

CPJ executive director Ann Cooper calls the move “yet another act of repression from a leader who has made clear his disdain for freedom of the press.” CPJ protested the action in a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei today (Click here to read the letter).

In March, CPJ named Khamenei to its list of the Ten Worst Enemies of the Press.

Read CPJ’s protest letter