Revolutionary Guards threaten further press crackdown
TEHRAN, Aug 1 (AFP) - The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)
vowed to take action against newspapers that insult the elite corps amid
a mounting crackdown on the nation's moderate press, reports said Sunday.
Brigadier General Rahim Safavi said the political turmoil created by
last month's bloody riots in Tehran was a bid to weaken the Guards and
hinted at even stricter controls on newspapers.
"If any newspaper insults or disseminates false information aimed
at weakening the IRGC, the corps will take legal action against it,"
he said, quoted by the English-language daily Iran News.
"We consider thinkers and journalists as wise people who do not
undermine the country's national security but I do have complaints against
"What we want from the press is to avoid following the steps of
the enemies," he said.
Savafi defended a letter to President Mohammad Khatami written by 24
senior Guards commanders, published last month after apparently being leaked
to the press, that said Khatami's democratic reforms were leading Iran
"In fact the danger they had predicted did come to pass,"
Savafi said, referring to the six days of riots that erupted after a student
protest over the closure of a moderate newspaper was attacked by security
forces and Islamic militants.
"What is going on in the country's political scene ... is aimed
at weakening the IRGC," he said.
The letter created a firestorm of controversy as reformists charged
it was leaked to weaken Khatami and undermine his reform agenda while conservatives
insisted it had been released to harm the image of the Guards, a pillar
of Iran's clerical regime.
Savafi also lashed out a newspapers which criticised the militants,
particularly the volunteer Basiji militia who reportedly attacked the students
with clubs and chains while police stood by without intervening.
"I hope those who have targeted the Basiji become revolutionaries
themselves," he said.
The pro-reform press that flourished after Khatami took office two years
ago has since been the target of a relentless crackdown.
Three major reform papers have been closed down since beginning of the
year and dozens of moderate journalists have been arrested or brought in
for questioning by the conservative-dominated judiciary.
Last month's riots, sparked by the closure of a leading pro-Khatami
newspaper, were the worst unrest in Tehran since the aftermath of the 1979
One person died and three were wounded, according to official figures.
Moderate newspapers said five people died and dozens were injured, many
of whom they said were later abducted from Tehran hospitals by the secret