CPJ alarmed by Iran’s escalating anti-press actions

New York, January 30, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the arrest of a another journalist as part of Iran’s declared intent to expand a crackdown on the media.

In a statement issued today, the Ministry of Intelligence continued to accuse journalists of conspiring with foreign media to repeat the alleged “sedition” of 2009, referring to electoral fraud exposed by the media and the protests that followed.

“Iranian officials today confirmed speculations that the government is seeking to preempt independent media coverage ahead of the elections, and expand a crackdown on journalists,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “By labeling and targeting local and international media as conspirators because of their work, Iranian authorities are obstructing any independent reporting and effectively discrediting the upcoming elections.”

CPJ confirmed the arrest today of Ali Dehghan, the economics editor of pro-reform newspaper Bahar, raising the number of journalists arrested during the past week to 15. In keeping with the ministry’s statement, local sources have also indicated to CPJ that there are additional arrest warrants pending against journalists. CPJ ranks Iran as the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists with 45 behind bars as of December 1, 2012.