Iranian official calls for end to press crackdown
TEHRAN, June 3 (Reuters) - A senior Iranian culture ministry official
has appealed for an end to harassment of the liberal press by the conservative-led
judiciary after a spate of arrests of newspaper directors, newspapers reported
Seven newspaper and news agency managers allied with President Mohammad
Khatami have been summoned to court in the past week, putting pressure
on the government to intervene.
``I formally protest the mistreatment of the press corps. Currently,
journalists do not feel safe,'' newspapers quoted the Deputy Culture Minister
on press affairs, Shaban Shahidi-Moaddab, as saying.
``The press court should act in a manner compatible with the dignity
and honor of the press. Our managing editors have a good reputation'' to
protect, said Shahidi-Moaddab, himself a former journalist.
The moderate press, widely seen as the vanguard of Khatami's reforms,
has angered the conservative clerical establishment, which accuses it of
undermining Islamic and revolutionary values.
The conservative-majority parliament is considering a law to limit
press freedom ahead of crucial legislative elections next March.
In April the moderate daily Zan (Woman), run by Faezeh Hashemi, daughter
of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was ordered closed by a revolutionary
The Iranian press has enjoyed increased freedom since Khatami's 1997