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Iran press board approves 17 new publications

TEHRAN, Nov 28 (AFP) - Iran's culture ministry, a target of conservative anger over its handling of the press, has given the green light to more than a dozen new publications, the official IRNA news agency said Tuesday.

It said the ministry's press supervisory board on Monday approved 17 new publications on various topics, including economics, politics, psychology and science. None of the permits were for daily newspapers.

The conservative-led courts closed more than 25 papers and journals, including every major pro-reform daily, in a sweeping crackdown launched in April after reformists won a majority in parliament.

The new legislature's efforts to roll back curbs on the press have been repeatedly stymied.

A conservative-dominated oversight body ruled earlier this month that a new law allowing papers freedom to change from weekly to daily or regional to national publication without prior police approval was "anti-Islamic."

Reformists have charged the press closures are part of a wider campaign aimed at hampering the re-election prospects of President Mohammad Khatami, who is expected to seek a second term next year.

Conservatives put some of the blame for their defeat in February's parliamentary polls on what had been an increasingly vocal and flourishing press.

Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, a close Khatami ally, has been repeatedly denounced by conservatives for "laxity" in his control over the press.


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