Iranhumanrights.org - Tahereh Riahi, the social affairs editor of the state-funded Borna News Agency, who has been detained by the Intelligence Ministry since late December 2016 without access to legal council, pleaded for help in her latest phone call to her family from Evin Prison, an informed source told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Iranhumanrights.org - Hamed Ataee, a news editor from northwestern Iran who has been sentenced to four months in prison for posting a rumor online, says he was actually convicted for posting a video of a member of Parliament (MP) disparaging the presence of women in politics.
Al-monitor - Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani's latest remarks on freedom of the press in Iran featured on almost every front page in the country Nov. 8, and heated the debate that emerged with the opening of the Press Exhibition in Tehran on Nov. 4.
Changiz M. Varzi
"Some pressure us by asking, 'Why don't you shut down that newspaper?' while others ask, 'Why have you banned that newspaper?'" Larijani said Nov. 7. "All I can say [in response] to these pressures is that we [the judiciary] pursue our path only by following the constitution and Islamic law."
In response to President Hassan Rouhani's speech at the opening ceremony of the 22nd Press and News Agencies Exhibition on Nov. 4, Larijani accused him of harboring double standards on freedom of the press.
"On several occasions you complained about why we didn't have [a judicial] approach to this newspaper or that website," Larijani stated without directly naming Rouhani. "But when you speak among journalists, you hail freedom of the press." In this vein, Rouhani's comments on freedom of the press, according to Larijani, are tantamount to "defamation of the judiciary" and an "insult."
Since taking office in August 2013, Rouhani has openly criticized the shutting down of newspapers and the pressure that has been applied on the media. Speaking at the Press Exhibition on Nov. 4, he said, "How can journalists provide security to society if they are worried about their own security?" Rouhani also suggested that violations of the press law be investigated by professional journalists, and not in court. He added, "We should not break pens and shut mouths with flimsy excuses."
In another related comment Nov. 8, government spokesman Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht stressed that "the government believes in freedom of speech and freedom of criticism," which have been underlined in the Iranian Constitution. He added, "However, the government voices its objection to those who receive protection and act against the law, accuse [the administration] and revile it."
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi also entered the debate. Visiting the Press Exhibition on Nov. 8, he weighed into the discourse over the role and status of journalism in the country. "No one can say that we don't have freedom of speech in this country," Pourmohammadi said. "No news remains unpublished and there is no one with untold thoughts. But we need to put everything in order."
According to Pourmohammadi, the recent contradictory remarks on freedom of the press in Iran are a sign of freedom and will bear fruit "if everyone follows the law."
Amid the heated discussion over freedom of press in Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency has published a series of short interviews with right-wing politicians on the topic.
In a Nov. 8 interview with Fars, Ahmad Salek, the head of the parliamentary cultural commission, echoed the judiciary chief's remarks, saying, "On the one hand the government defends freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but on the other hand it accuses its critics of being illiterate and quasi-revolutionary."
Salek also suggested that politicians avoid fanning political polarization in the country, saying, "A private meeting is the place where the president should resolve these disagreements."
globalvoices.org -When President Hassan Rouhani was elected to office in 2013, he was lauded for his mandate of "hope and prudence" and promises to bring more freedoms to the media and telecommunications realm.
Iranhumanrights.org - Experts Suspect Intelligence Establishment's Direct Influence
The government of President Hassan Rouhani is preparing to introduce two bills to Parliament that media experts and journalists say could further erode press freedom and freedom of expression in Iran. The first bill is designed to replace the current Press Law and the second would create a state organization to rival independent journalism groups.
Iranhumanrights.org - Editor Yashar Soltani, who was initially charged with "spreading lies" after his website published unclassified information about illegal land sales by the Tehran Municipality, has also been charged with "gathering classified information with the intent to harm national security."
HRANA News Agency – Attorney general of Golesatan province warned editors of news and social websites about “discriminatory and irresponsible” context and emphasized that if such case is being identified, these media will be banned and they will face the consequences.
RFL/RE - Critics say proposed new legislation in Iran would mean an end to any form of independent journalism in the Islamic republic while playing into the hands of the country's security organs and hard-line conservative judiciary, who would like to see even tighter state control of the media.
ABC - The lawyer of prominent Iranian journalist says a court has sentenced his client to three years in prison on charges of insulting authorities and spreading propaganda against the ruling system.
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