Another Reformist Paper Closed After Khamenei Stifles Parliamentary Debate on Press Restrictions

New York, August 8, 2000
— Iran’s Press Court shut down yet another major reformist newspaper on Tuesday, two days after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quashed a parliamentary bill to amend the country’s restrictive press laws, according to wire service reports.

“This latest move by Iran’s Press Court is extremely disheartening to those who believe that press freedom is a universal right,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “We had hoped the debate would open the way for free expression.”

The latest closing–of the popular daily Bahar, published by a close aide to reformist president Mohammad Khatami–intensifes the crackdown on the press that began in April. On Monday, a pro-reform weekly, Cheshmeh Ardebil, was suspended for four months, and a liberal opposition journalist was arrested, according to wire service reports.

CPJ sent a protest letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday, calling for him to “allow the open, uncensored media debate that is essential for democratic discourse.” [Read CPJ’s letter]

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