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Pre-election crackdown on Iranian media intensifies

New York, May 8, 2013--At least 40 Iranian journalists were behind bars on April 15, 2013, as authorities intensified a crackdown on the independent media ahead of the June presidential elections, a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. According to the analysis, Iran is the second leading jailer of journalists in the world.

"The Iranian government is determined to silence independent coverage of public affairs as millions of Iranians contemplate the nation's political future," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. "This offensive on the press is choking the flow of information, allowing the government to hold elections behind closed doors in the midst of a crippled economy and international tensions."

Iran's censorship apparatus uses a variety of tactics, including mass imprisonments, poor prison conditions, torture, denial of due process, harassment, Internet censorship, and routine banning of publications, to silence critical voices, CPJ research shows.

Authorities have pursued a revolving-door policy in imprisoning journalists, freeing some detainees on short-term furloughs even as they make new arrests. The pattern of rotating critical journalists in and out of prison has sown fear and self-censorship across the entire press corps. Journalists have also fled in record numbers. At least 68 Iranian journalists fled into exile over the past five years, according to CPJ research, surpassed only by Somali journalists escaping a conflict-ridden nation where they are routinely killed.

With the start of a new wave of press detentions earlier this year, Iran's intelligence minister declared that 600 journalists were part of an anti-state network and described the arrests as an attempt to "prevent the emergence of sedition prior to the elections."

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and CPJ have produced a slideshow to accompany the report, featuring seven political cartoons about media censorship in Iran. A video, highlighting the deterioration of press freedom in the country, is also available.

To shed light on the state of censorship in Iran and its repercussions, CPJ, in partnership with PEN American Center and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, is presenting a special screening of "Forced Confessions," a film by Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari who has also been subjected to a coerced confession. The screening, held May 8 in New York, will be followed by a discussion moderated by political satirist Jon Stewart. The discussion may be followed live on @cpjmena, using the Twitter hashtag #FreeIranPress. A video of the event will be available soon on www.cpj.org.

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Media contact: Advocacy and Communications Associate Magnus Ag; [email protected] / +1 212-300-9007

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