French media watchdog criticises new Iranian law
PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) - Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without
Borders (RSF) on Wednesday criticised a new law passed by Iran's conservative
outgoing parliament to rein in the country's liberal press.
RSF said it was alarmed at the state of freedom of the press in Iran
just two months after elections gave reformers a stronger position in the
It said hardliners had stepped up a campaign against the reform-minded
press since the beginning of April, taking legal action against some journalists
and jailing Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, editor of leading reformist newspaper
RSF called on Iran's next parliament, scheduled to convene in late May,
to change the law to make it more liberal.
The group also asked the country's courts to put an end to legal proceedings
against pro-reform journalists and urged officials to free four imprisoned
Among the more restrictive parts of the press law approved earlier this
week was a measure explicitly allowing hardline revolutionary courts to
prosecute press offences.
The new law also bans criticism of the constitution, seen by some in
the liberal press as a hurdle to democratic reforms.
It forbids Iranian publications from receiving direct or indirect financial
support from foreign governments or other entities, and extends responsibility
for press violations to news writers and commentators in addition to a
The law must be approved by the conservative-led Guardian Council, which
vets parliamentary legislation, before it can take effect.