Judiciary bans three more reformist papers

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New York, October 24, 2000
— Iran’s hard-line judiciary banned three reformist newspapers yesterday, bringing to at least 27 the total number of papers shut down since April, when the conservative Press Court launched a broad press crackdown.

All but one of the banned papers backed President Muhammad Khatami’s agenda of social and political liberalization.

According to press reports, judicial authorities banned the weekly newspapers Mihan, Sobh-e-Omid, and Sepideh-e-Zendeghi for committing unspecified “press offenses.” Iranian and international media reported, variously, that authorities closed the three papers for failing to print their business address on recent editions and for using the logos of previously banned publications.

Reuters reported that the Iranian judiciary is currently pursuing legal action against several other weekly papers for switching to a daily publication schedule without permission from the authorities.

CPJ views these charges as part of a continuing pattern of state-sponsored harassment against pro-reform papers. “Iranian authorities have created a situation in which any criticism of the regime is effectively illegal,” said CPJ Mideast program coordinator Joel Campagna. “They appear intent on eradicating every last vestige of the reformist press.”

Yesterday, CPJ honored jailed Iranian editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin with an International Press Freedom Award. Last April, Shamsolvaezin was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for allegedly insulting Islamic principles. His “crime” was having published a 1999 article criticizing capital punishment in Iran.