Independent Iraqi daily newspaper Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed has survived numerous attempts to destroy it over its 10 year existence. But on 10 February, the newspaper's Baghdad office was bombed and now its future is in doubt. The daily may need to find a new
office, employees are fleeing, and its website is facing one DoS attack after another.
A few hours later the bombing a militia-like group entered the building. They came threatening us in broad daylight, so to speak, says Ismael Zayer, editor
in chief. The group escaped after employees managed to warn the police.
The bomb attacks followed a social media campaign to demand the closure of the newspaper after it published its weekly supplement Zad on 6 February. The supplement was devoted
to the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and on the cover featured a caricature of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The cover caricature is a tradition for Zad, a supplement that came into existence in the first months of
the Arab Spring. These cartoons are never intended to be offensive or convey a negative message, they are just an alternative to uninteresting photos of VIPs.
Security forces in Iran have raided at least four newspapers and arrested several journalists in what appears to be concerted action aimed at intimidating the media in advance of the presidential elections in June.
Sources in Tehran said reformist
newspapers Etemaad, Shargh, Bahar and Arman were targeted by a group of plain-clothes police who ransacked offices, filmed staff, confiscated documents and held several journalists.
The semi-official Mehr news agency confirmed that a number of
journalists have been arrested and said that officials were holding arrest warrants issued by judicial authorities.
Reasons behind the mass arrests on Sunday are still not clear but Mehr said the journalists were accused of co-operating with anti-revolutionary
Persian-speaking media organisations outside the country. Iran has previously arrested people who it claims had links with foreign-based Persian-speaking media, especially the BBC's Persian service, which is loathed by the Islamic republic but
remains popular in the country.
In a flurry of anti-press actions in Iran, a jury has voted to convict a Reuters bureau chief on anti-state charges while authorities have jailed the head of the official news agency, blocked Google
services, and shut one reformist newspaper.
The authorities in Iran have closed down the country's biggest-circulation reformist newspaper, Etemaad , accusing it of supposedly breaching media laws.
Observers say that the paper had just published a story on the reaction to the
emergence of a film showing the police attack on Tehran university last June.
Authorities also suspended publication of a weekly reformist paper whose managing director is the son of one of Iran's opposition leaders, Mehdi Karroubi. Last week
Mehdi Karroubi was beaten up by Iranian security forces at a rally.
Hossein Karroubi told the BBC that the paper, Iran Dokht , was targeted due to his father's political activities. He said that a few days ago, an Iranian government
official had spoken to his mother, the proprietor of Iran Dokht. The official had criticised the political stance of the opposition leader.
A third publication, Sina, a weekly provincial newspaper, was also banned, accused of not operating in line
with the constitution.
The Iranian newspaper Shahrvand-e-Emrooz has been shut down after mocking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's relationship with wise man Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei
The cover picture was a photoshopped to look like a 16th-century Persian miniature.
The wise man is lecturing his companions who kneel dutifully in front of him.
All the characters are in fact modern-day Iranians. Indeed, the wise man is none other than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. And in an obvious
satire of the country's political leaders, it is Mashaei who counts the president among his obedient followers -- not the other way round.
The picture highlights the concerns among Iranian conservatives over Mashaei's growing political influence.
Supporters of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, believe that Mashaei, whose daughter is married to the president's son, is attempting to undermine clerical power in Iran.
It is widely believed the picture was the reason behind the
enforced closure of the magazine on Monda. Another publication, Roozegar, was also closed.
Iranian newspapers have been banned from publishing the names or photos of the leaders of Iran's green movement, according to a confidential governmental ruling revealed by an opposition website.
The ruling, issued by Iran's ministry of culture
and Islamic guidance on 18 August, was stamped top secret and urgent . It was addressed to the editors of newspapers and news agencies in Iran, and bans them from publishing any news about the defeated presidential candidates in last
summer's disputed election and current opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and the former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami.
The opposition website irangreenvoice.com has published a copy of the letter, which reads: Keeping the society and the public opinion calm is the main responsibility of the media. Security officials have considerations about publishing news, photos and speeches of Mr Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami, therefore according to the clause 2 of the article 5 of the press code publishing news, photos and reports about the these people are prohibited.
An Iranian journalist who works for a government paper, and asked not to be identified, told the Guardian: Soon after the election last year, those papers which insisted on publishing news or reports about the opposition leaders were all
closed down , so after a while an unwritten ruling overshadowed the media in Iran. Self-censorship meant no journalist even dared to utter the names of the opposition leaders to their editors, let alone publishing any news about them.
week, Iran also closed down Asia, a financial newspaper and suspended the permission for publication of two magazines, Sepidar and Parastoo. Since the disputed election in June, Iran has shut eight newspapers, including Etemaad, Iran's most prominent
reformist paper, and has imprisoned more than 100 journalists and bloggers. Almost all opposition newspapers are closed down and access to their websites is blocked.
The Iranian state news agency IRNA reports that the country's leading reformist newspaper has been banned for two months for spreading lies.
No additional details were provided, but the pro-reform Etemad daily had recently published
an interview with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, in which he criticized the conservative opposition to the Iranian president.
Etemad has been banned several times over the past decade.
Reporters Without Borders have criticized moves by the Iranian authorities to censor national and international media ahead of the burial of leading dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.
While Iran mourns, the authorities are
again censoring the media, including the print media, the BBC and the Internet, said the Paris-based press freedom watchdog.
Montazeri was regarded as the spiritual patron of the pro-reform opposition movement, which blossomed after June's
disputed presidential election.
According to opposition websites, hundreds of thousands of mourners were said to have poured onto the streets of Qom yesterday, many chanting slogans against the government. Clashes reportedly broke out between
mourners and police after the funeral, but due to a ban on foreign media, the scale of the confrontation is not clear.
Immediately after the announcement of Montazeri's death, Internet connections slowed down in many cities, while telephone
communication was disrupted, said Reporters Without Borders.
Journalists were arrested during demonstrations in homage to Montazeri, the press group said, adding that the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance issued a directive banning
newspaper editors from publishing articles about Montazeri.
The BBC said fresh attempts had been made to jam its Persian television service to Iran. A program about Montazeri that the BBC was airing included an exclusive interview he gave to the
British broadcaster, shortly before his death.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Iranian authorities' decision to shut the reformist daily Hayate No . The Press Supervisory Board revoked the license of the Tehran-based daily Hayate No for working outside the
regulations, according to local news reports, but the agency provided no details of the alleged violations.
Hayate No is considered supportive of defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Its closing came the same day that
thousands of Mousavi supporters demonstrated on university campuses in Tehran and nationwide.
It can be no coincidence that on the day student protesters take to the streets, the government muzzles yet another reformist newspaper, said CPJ
Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Since the disputed presidential election in June, journalists have been censored, harassed and imprisoned. Iran now holds the dubious distinction of being second only to China as a jailer of journalists.
A With at least 30 journalists currently in prison, Iran replaces China as the world's worst jailer of journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ called on the Iranian authorities to release all journalists who have been detained
following the country's disputed June 12 presidential elections.
CPJ research shows that at least 24 detained in the aftermath of the elections remain in custody, in addition to at least six journalists who were in detention prior to the disputed
elections. In the past few days three journalists have been freed, while at least three others have been arrested.
Of the 30 journalists currently behind bars, 13 work primarily for print publications, three work for online publications, two work
for television stations, six are primarily bloggers, and an additional six are freelancers or with unknown affiliations.
The Iranian authorities have orchestrated a campaign against journalists of all types since the June 12 presidential
elections, said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem: Despite some isolated releases, the number of journalists behind bars is at an all time high. The authorities should immediately release all the detained
Two major reformist newspapers have been shut down before Friday's election.
All copies of newspaper Etemad Meli have been seized by the government after reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi made allegations that President Ahmadinejad was
involved in several financial scandals. Additionally, the unofficial newspaper of the Islamic Iran Participation Party, Yas-e No , has been shut down.
Hossein Bastani, an Iranian dissident journalist living in France claimed that other
reformist newspapers were issued a gag order 96 hours before the election.
With the widespread use of new media among Iranian youth, Bastani believes that dissenting bloggers are more at risk than journalists because of their relative obscurity.
Reformist campaigner Ghomar Asheghaneh recently reported that renowned Iranian blogger Ali Kalai, reported missing a month ago, is in jail.
Bastami fears that while the Iranian government will often withhold from torturing famous
journalists because of the public's reaction, young bloggers are prone to much harsher treatment.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to suspend Hemat , a weekly that supports allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The ministry said a spoof movie poster on the front page of
the latest issue, on 1 February, had insulted senior government officials.
The spoof poster, for an imaginary movie called Slaying of Ahmadinejad , alluded to the presidential election scheduled for June. The poster showed the photo of the
film's supposed director, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, together with the photos of its three stars: former President Mohammad Khatami, former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Tehran's current mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. All three are
potential rivals to Ahmadinejad in the election.
The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, the censorship arm of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, ordered the newspaper's suspension for insulting high-placed regime
An Iranian newspaper has been shut down for publishing an article that authorities deemed sympathetic to Israel.
An official at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, says the Kargozaran newspaper was closed because it sanitized the
Zionist regime's crimes in Gaza.
The official said the article suggested Hamas officials were terrorists and brought on civilian deaths by hiding in schools and hospitals. It is not clear when the ban will take effect — the paper did
appear on newsstands on Friday.