July 24, 1998
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
Ann K. Cooper