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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  The Iranian government has suspended 12 
reformist publications in its crackdown against the 
media.  Lisa Bryant reports the closures follow the 
detentions of two prominent Iranian journalists in the 
past few days. 
TEXT:  Iran's press court defended the closures 
Monday, saying that so-called enemy elements within 
the publications were attacking the values of Iran's 
1979 Islamic revolution. 
The court says -- in a statement published by Iran's 
official news agency -- that the 12 journals were 
suspended for an indefinite period of time. /// OPT 
/// The banned publications include eight major daily 
newspapers, along with weekly and monthly news 
journals. /// END OPT /// 
Many Iranians found out about the closings when they 
tried -- and failed -- to buy the newspapers Monday.  
Only one of the suspended papers -- the daily Azad -- 
was on sale, because it reportedly had gone to print 
before the ban.  The editor told local reporters the 
paper would  not  be printed the following day. 
Despite the news ban, the streets of Tehran were 
quiet.  Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and the 
reformist newspapers have both appealed for calm. 
But analysts say the suspensions are another sign of a 
fierce power struggle between Iran's hard-line 
conservatives and advocates of political reform.  
Conservatives partly blame the reformist media for 
their widespread defeat in February's parliamentary 
Last week, the outgoing parliament issued tough new 
legislation against the press.  And in two recent 
speeches, Iran's religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, 
harshly criticized what he called un-Islamic elements 
in the Iranian media and warned of an imminent 
On Sunday, the head of the banned Neshat daily 
newspaper was taken to jail, after the press court 
rejected his appeal against a two-and-one-half year 
prison sentence.  
The day before, another journalist, Akbar Ganji, was 
arrested in court, when he appeared to answer charges 
his newspaper had violated Iran's press laws.  Mr. 
Ganji has written extensively about the 1998 killings 
of five pro-reform dissidents.  He has suggested that 
government officials ordered their deaths. 
/// OPT /// Other journalists have been criticized for 
attending a conference in Germany recently.  
Conservatives called the meeting in Berlin an insult 
to Islamic values, and ordered several of the 
reporters to appear before Iran's Revolutionary Court. 
/// END OPT ///
Earlier this year, yet another journalist, Saeed 
Hajjarian, was shot and seriously injured.  Some 
reformists in Iran suspect that government hard-liners 
are behind the shooting.  But conservatives have 
strongly rebutted those accusations.  (Signed)
24-Apr-2000 11:57 AM EDT (24-Apr-2000 1557 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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