TITLE=IRAN / CRACKDOWN (L ONLY)
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
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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