May 27, 2002 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Iranian judiciary forbids press to mention relations with the United States

Reporters Without Borders protested today against a ban by the Iranian judiciary on publishing articles in the country's press about relations between Iran and the United States and called for it to be lifted at once. "This censorship violates the freedom of expression of journalists and the right of Iranians to be informed and shows that foreign policy remains the exclusive domain of the Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who controls the judiciary," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Sharudi. "This legally baseless, deplorable ban comes as several publications and journalists are fighting legal battles." The ban was announced on 25 May after the reformist daily Nowrooz said informal contacts may have been made between top-level Iranian and US officials in Nicosia or Ankara in recent months. The question of relations with the United States has split the Iranian regime, against a background of the US fight against terrorism in the region, but the authorities decreed that simply mentioning the subject would be an "offence" which was "against national interests." Some reform figures are indignant about the illegality of the ban. The editor of Nowrooz, Mohsen Mirdamadi, who has already been prosecuted for articles he has written, protested against the restriction of political debate. Mirdamadi, who is also a reformist MP and close to reformist President Mohammed Khatami, said any talks going on between Iran and the US should be held "in the open" and not secretly. Reporters Without Borders notes that 11 journalists are imprisoned in Iran and that the country's judiciary, controlled by conservatives, has suspended 28 daily newspapers in the past two years.