A newspaper stand is seen in Tehran, Iran, on September 18, 2021. Iranian authorities today shuttered the state-run daily Kelid. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iran shutters newspaper that implied supreme leader was responsible for poverty

Washington, D.C., November 8, 2021 — Iranian authorities must immediately reverse their decision to shut down the Tehran-based state-run daily newspaper Kelid, and should allow media outlets to report the news freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Earlier today, the Press Supervisory Board of Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance indefinitely revoked Kelid’s operating license, forcing it to stop publishing, according to reports by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency and the semi-official Mehr News Agency. Kelid’s website was also taken offline, those reports said. Neither agency offered an explanation for the ban.

“Truthful and open reporting about matters of daily life is of vital importance for the Iranian public,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Iranian authorities must allow Kelid to resume operations immediately and cease any attempts to censor the media.”

The ban was issued days after Kelid published a November 6 article headlined “Millions of Iranians Living Under Poverty Line,” according to a copy of that article circulated on social media.

The image accompanying that article featured a picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s hand drawing a red line, which some readers took to imply that Khamenei was responsible for the increasing poverty in the country, according to news reports.

CPJ emailed the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for comment, but did not receive any reply.