Reporters Without Borders


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President

Despite all the political infighting, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s two leading politicians, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, always manage to agree on the need to harass journalists and censor the press. These two predators see eye to eye when it comes to eliminating critics and independent media.

There has been a violent and relentless crackdown on the opposition ever since President Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June 2009. For the past three years, many journalists have alternated spells of arbitrary detention with periods on parole until they finally fled abroad for fear that their next arrest could be the definitive one. In all, more than 300 journalists and bloggers have been arrested and 48 are currently detained. The exodus is the biggest since the 1979 revolution.

As president, Ahmadinejad is responsible for this crackdown. He organises it jointly with the Ministry of Intelligence and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance, which are under his direct control, and in close coordination with the Revolutionary Guards.

More than 20 media outlets have been shut down by the Ministry of Culture’s censorship arm, the Press Authorisation and Monitoring Commission. The government hounds journalists and their families, carries out summary arrests and uses secret imprisonment in order to prevent unwanted coverage of its activities. It also uses every possible method to prevent foreign radio and TV stations from broadcasting to Iran in Farsi. Foreign media are closely watched and their local correspondents risk losing their accreditation at any time. Many foreign journalists were unable to get their visas extended in 2011 and had to leave the country.

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