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Iranian journalists appeal to Khatami for protection

TEHRAN, April 18 (AFP) - Over 320 Iranian journalists have called on President Mohammad Khatami to guarantee their legal rights and stop newspaper bans.

"We ask that journalism be recognized as a distinct profession and be afforded all legal services and support," the journalists said in a letter to Khatami published by the official IRNA news agency.

The jounalists called for an immediate end to "illogical and illegal" ways of dealing with the press and asked Khatami to define press violations clearly and without ambiguity.

They claimed that in the past year eight newspapers and weeklies had been closed on various "empty pretexts" and said another two publications were on the verge of being shut down.

The number of newspapers and magazines in Iran has soared since Khatami came to power in August 1997 but the moderate press is now under mounting pressure from the powerful conservative wing of the Islamic regime.

Also see "Hamshahri" news about journalists voicing their concerns


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