Leading reformist daily suspended for 10 days

New York, January 24, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the 10-day suspension of Iran’s top selling daily, Hamshahri, by Tehran’s Press Court on January 22.

The judiciary suspended the reformist leaning Hamshahri after the paper failed to print a letter of reply submitted for publication by Ali Reza Mahjoub, head of Iran’s Trade Union. Mahjoub filed a complaint with the Press Court claiming that the paper was unwilling to print his reply to an article about him that he considered inaccurate.

When the paper continued to refuse to publish the reply, the Press Court issued a suspension, which the paper began serving on January 23. Although the law stipulates that the paper is obligated to print the letter of reply, or clarification, sources have said the law is rarely enforced, and that readers routinely submit letters of reply to newspapers for publication that are rejected.

Since the beginning of 2003, Iranian authorities have suspended three other publications—Bahar, Norooz, and Taban—for unspecified reasons. A special clergy court suspended Hayat-e-No after it published a cartoon from the 1930s depicting former U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt flattening a Supreme Court justice. Religious figures claimed that the justice, who wore a black robe and was bearded, depicted Ayatollah Khomeini and was an insult to him.

According to CPJ research, more than 60 publications have been suspended in Iran since a crackdown on the press began in April 2000.