In Iran, newspaper censored and two journalists out on bail

New York, August 18, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the government’s censorship of the daily newspaper Etemad e Melli on Monday.

Etemad e Melli , which is owned by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was banned from newsstands, the daily reported on its Web site. It was not clear how long the ban would be in place. Government agents prevented copies of the paper from leaving the printing press apparently because of an article by Karroubi in which he responded to claims against him in the pro-government media that he had deliberately disseminated disinformation. Karroubi ignited a massive controversy two weeks ago when he wrote that detainees had been raped and tortured while in custody.

This is not the first time Itmad e Milli has been censored since the disputed June 12 presidential elections. The newspaper was prevented from being issued on July 1, and has been forced on occasion to go to print with blank spaces where censored articles would otherwise have appeared.

“This crude form of censorship confirms the intent of the authorities to silence a prominent political figure who is attempting to publish serious allegations of government mistreatment of detainees,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “Iran cannot trumpet its democrat credentials and at the same time suppress independent media.”

In other news, CPJ confirmed that blogger and women’s rights activist Kave Muzzafari, who had been detained since July 9, was released from Evin prison on bail on Monday, according to the Tehran-based Sign for Change Web site. Satyar Emami, a photographer with the state-run newspaper Jam e Jam who was arrested on July 9, was released on bail on Sunday, according to CPJ sources. With those two releases, CPJ research shows that Iran is currently holding at least 36 journalists behind bars.