Iran shuts down reformist newspaper

Prominent weekly closed down for content 'contrary to previous commitments of publisher'.
By Reuters
Sun 09 Nov 2008 02:53 PM

Iran has closed down a prominent reformist weekly which has often criticised the policies of conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, media said on Sunday.

Iran's Press Supervisory Board sent a letter on Saturday to the Shahrvand-e Emrouz (Today's Citizen) weekly formally informing it of the decision, the Kargozaran newspaper said.

It was banned because of content which was "contrary to the previous commitments of the publisher", Kargozaran said, without giving specific details.

Since 2000, the Press Supervisory Board and Iranian courts have closed some 100 publications, condemning many as "pawns of the West" and accusing them of trying to undermine Iran's system of clerical rule.

The semi-official Fars News Agency last week said Shahrvand-e Emrouz, which was first published in March 2007 and employs many journalists who used to work for pro-reform dailies now closed down, had misrepresented some of the government's actions.

There was no immediate comment from Sharvand-e Emrouz, which in the past has published articles critical of Ahmadinejad, who is widely expected to stand for re-election in a June 2009 presidential election.

In its latest issue published on Saturday, the weekly carried a front-page photograph of a smiling US President-elect Barack Obama with one of his daughters.

"Why does Iran not have an Obama?" it asked in an editorial.

Iran's leaders see the United States as their arch foe and the two countries have not had diplomatic ties for three decades.

Some analysts say the closure of pro-reform publications like Shahrvand-e Emrouz is aimed at silencing critics of Ahmadinejad. The government rejects the accusations and says it does not censor the media.

Ahmadinejad has come under growing criticism over his failure to rein in double-digit inflation. Reformists also accuse him of isolating Iran with his hardline stance and rhetoric in the country's dispute with the West over its nuclear programme.

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