CPJ Protests Iranian Court Revoking Licence
of Popular Independnt Daily, Jameah

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His Excellency Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi
Head of the Judiciary
Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-governmental organization of journalists devoted to upholding press freedom worldwide, is writing to strongly protest the appeals court ruling announced yesterday revoking the publishing license of the popular daily newspaper Jameah. Since its founding earlier this year, Jameah has earned a reputation for its daring coverage of political and social issues in Iran.

The ruling comes just over one month after a Tehran court ordered the paper's closure on June 10 and banned its managing editor, Hamid Reza Jalaipour, from heading a newspaper for a period of one year for allegedly publishing insults and false information. The charges stemmed from several articles published in Jameah which were critical of Iranian public figures, including Revolutionary Guards commander Brig-Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, whom the paper quoted as making threatening statements against "liberals" and "antirevolutionaries." According to press reports published yesterday, the appellate court's ruling reduced the ban against Jalaipour to two months; however, the decision to close Jameah is effective as of July 25.

In addition to the closure of Jemeah, CPJ is also deeply concerned about the conviction handed down on July 13 against Ali Mohammad Mahdavi-Khorrami, managing editor of the daily Gozaresh-e-Ruz. Mahdavi-Khorrami was banned from managing a newspaper in Iran for three years and fined US$4,000 for allegedly publishing lies and violating press ethics. The case against Mahdavi-Khorrami was based on an article and cartoon published in Gozaresh-e-Ruz in June which reported that Iranian leaders had transferred large sums of money to bank accounts outside the country. According to staffers at Gozaresh-e-Ruz, the story originally had been published in an Arabic-language newspaper. The case against Mahdavi-Khorrami is also believed to have stemmed from a picture the newspaper printed on its front page in June depicting a teenage boy and girl with the caption "Friendship Under Fear." Gozaresh-e-Ruz has remained voluntarily closed since the legal action was initiated against Mahdavi-Khorrami last month.

CPJ believes that Jameah and Gozaresh-e-Ruz have been targeted by Iranian authorities in an attempt to silence criticism of the Iranian government and to discourage the emergence of independent print media . Such measures represent clear violations of the right of journalists and editors to "seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers," as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We urge Your Excellency to ensure that the judiciary in Iran conform to international standards for a free press and that journalists be able to practice their profession freely without state interference. Specifically, we urge that the Iranian judiciary respect the internationally recognized right of journalists to publish a diversity of views, including those which are critical of the government or state policies.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to a reply at your earliest convenience.

 

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper

Executive Director



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His Excellency Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi
Head of the Judiciary
Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
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98 21 646 5242