Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the latest wave of harassment of media outlets in Iran, which has included the arrest of a journalist and the closure of a pro-reform daily newspaper in the past few days, and the interrogation of other journalists.
he authorities seem to be trying to intimidate the media and journalists as part of a preventive crackdown two months ahead of parliamentary elections. Four journalists – Afarine Chitsaz of the daily Iran, Ehssan Mazndarani, the editor of the daily Farhikhteghan, Saman Safarzai of the monthly Andisher Poya and Issa Saharkhiz, a well-known independent journalist – have been held since their arrest on 2 November. According to the information obtained by RSF, several other journalists have been summoned and interrogated, and two of them are being held in the Revolutionary Guard intelligence section. Bahar’s closure was announced on 3 January by the judicial system’s official website Mizan, which said the reason was its “anti-government publicity” and its “articles questioning the Islamic Republic’s basis.” The daily was previously closed in November 2013 because of an article said to have “insulted Islam.” Farzad Pourmoradi, a journalist working for media outlets in the western province of Kermanshah including Kermanshah Post and Navai Vaghat, was arrested at his home on 4 January after a search by plainclothes officers. His family still does not know why he was arrested or where he is being held. He had created a Kalaghnews page on the Telegram instant messaging and social networking service that covered local news in Kermanshah and the way the elections are being organized there. From the start, this news outlet was the target of irate criticism by conservative media that support the Revolutionary Guards. With a total of 37 journalists and citizen-journalists currently detained, Iran is still one for the world’s five biggest prisons for news and information providers and is ranked 173rd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.