Monday, July 10, 2006

Iran censors news of its censoring

Iran Focus: a pro-MEK website
Iran’s state censors were busy last week after the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution accusing Tehran of obstructing freedom of expression on the internet.

In its resolution on Thursday, the EP listed Iran alongside Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Libya, Maldives, Nepal, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam as being “enemies of freedom of expression on-line”.

The EP highlighted the case of Motjaba Saminejad, a weblogger imprisoned in Iran for reporting the arrests of fellow cyber-dissidents.

On the same day, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported the EP resolution and listed all the states but one on the blacklist: Iran. READ MORE

In May, the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of being "predators" of press freedoms.

In its 2006 annual report for press freedom, the watchdog said that the "very exclusive club" of predators of press freedom expanded in 2005 to include Ahmadinejad.

It described Iran as "the Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists and bloggers". "Threats, interrogation, summonses, arrests, and arbitrary detention are sharply increasing", it said.

"Journalists can often only stay out of prison by paying very high bail. The accession to power of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not improved the situation.

"In Iran, prison often means torture as well", it added.

The watchdog said that Iran had "total control" over news within its borders and was among the world’s "most repressive regimes".