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October 31

* Young Iran dramatist lands in big political drama

TEHRAN, Oct 31 (Reuters) - An Iranian student seeking to dramatise his deep religious idealism in a small campus play has found himself at the centre of a wider political drama and facing an uncertain future. An Iranian court is due to issue verdict on Tuesday after a trial earlier this month of the author, Abbas Nemati, and three others held for allegedly insulting a Shi'ite Moslem saint in a satirical sketch published in an obscure university journal ... FULL TEXT

October 30

* Iran clerics group backs reformist colleague

TEHRAN, Oct 30 (Reuters) - A group of Islamic scholars in Iran have voiced support for a maverick reformist cleric accused of political and religious dissent, and questioned the legality of the hardline court which began his trial on Saturday ... FULL TEXT

October 28

* Verdict on ``blasphemous'' play expected soon

TEHRAN, Oct 28 (Reuters) - An Iranian court is expected to issue a verdict on Saturday against three students and a professor held in connection with a satirical play allegedly insulting a Shi'ite Moslem saint, the judge said on Thursday. Hardline judge Saeed Mortazavi told reporters that his verdict would be delivered to the defendants, still in jail, and their lawyers, on Saturday before being released to the media ... FULL TEXT

October 26

* Nouri says only prison can silence him

TEHRAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Reformist Abdollah Nouri defied his conservative critics on Tuesday, warning Iran's hardline clerical court on the eve of his dissent trial that the only way to silence him was to throw him in jail ... FULL TEXT

* Nouri faces hardline clerical court

TEHRAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Reformist cleric Abdollah Nouri, a vanguard figure in Iran's pro-democracy camp, will on Saturday appear before the Special Court for Clergy to answer charges of political and religious dissent ... FULL TEXT

October 25

* Court jails cleric over protest letter- paper

TEHRAN, Oct 25 (Reuters) - A hardline Iranian court has jailed an outspoken reformist cleric for one year for signing a petition against the house arrest of Iran's leading dissident clergyman, a newspaper reported on Monday ... FULL TEXT

* Khatami sues hardline newspaper

TEHRAN, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The head of Iran's leading hardline newspaper was summoned to court on Monday on a complaint by President Mohammad Khatami's office over the alleged publication of confidential material ... FULL TEXT

October 24

* Court prepares landmark case against reformer

TEHRAN, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Leading reformist Abdollah Nouri goes on trial later this week before a panel of hardline clerics in a case that will help shape Iran's political and religious future. Nouri, a mid-ranking Shi'ite Moslem cleric and close ally of President Mohammad Khatami, faces charges of defaming late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, challenging Islamic principles and backing renewed ties to Iran's arch-foe, the United States ... FULL TEXT

October 22

* Nouri takes message to hardline heartland

QOM, Iran, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Cleric and leading reformist Abdollah Nouri on Friday carried his radical doctrine of religious pluralism to this holy Shi'ite city, spiritual home to Iran's conservative establishment ... FULL TEXT

October 22

* Iran shuts down student paper over attack photos

TEHRAN, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities have closed a student publication for carrying photos of a bloody police attack on student dormitories, which sparked widespread unrest in July, a newspaper reported on Thursday. It was the second recent closure of a student magazine in Iran, where several moderate dailies have been banned this year ... FULL TEXT

October 21

* Iran court hears prominent blasphemy case

TEHRAN, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Iran's judiciary on Wednesday bore down on four students and a professor charged with insults against one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest figures, assembling a special panel of Supreme Court judges and hinting it may hand down the death penalty. Lined up along one wall of the crammed, top-floor courtroom were six senior clerics from the Supreme Court acting as advisers to Judge Saeed Mortezavi, who under Iranian law doubles as prosecutor ... FULL TEXT

* New press jury elected

Tehran (Cinema) - Members of the press jury have been elected for a new term. With its new members, the jury may not be as harsh toward the moderate press. But some say there will be no significant change in direction ... FULL TEXT IN PERSIAN

October 18

* Nuri says Iran hardliners fighting Islam, history

TEHRAN, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Reformist cleric Abdollah Nouri on Monday dismissed any attempt to halt Iran's move toward greater pluralism as a vain effort to stem the tide of Islam and world history ... FULL TEXT

* First woman editor jailed in Iran out on bail

TEHRAN, Oct 18 (AFP) - The first woman newspaper editor jailed in Iran, Jaleh Oskui, has been released on bail, a journalist on her weekly Penj-Shanbeh-ha (Thursdays) told AFP Monday. Oskui, 40, who was jailed last week for repeatedly publishing "outrageous" articles, was released late Saturday "after providing some 83,000 dollars bail," the journalist said ... FULL TEXT

October 16

* Iran court orders liberal editor jailed

TEHRAN, Oct 16 (Reuters) - An Iranian court on Saturday ordered the arrest of a leading pro-reform editor whose newspaper was recently banned for questioning Islamic principles, his colleagues said ... FULL TEXT

October 13

* Prosecutor charges reformist editor who repeatedly defied court bans

TEHRAN, Oct 13 (AFP) - Iranian prosecutors have formally pressed charges against leading reformist editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, who has defied three court-imposed bans on his papers by bringing out new titles, the judiciary announced on Wednesday. "The editor-in-chief of the (now banned) daily Neshat will be prosecuted and tried in the presence of other journalists," the judiciary said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency ... FULL TEXT

* Hard-liners fight for power

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Threatened by presidential reforms, Iranian hard-liners have made an ambitious bid at preserving their power by indicting President Mohammad Khatami's closest ally. A special clerical court that operates behind closed doors indicted Abdollah Nouri on Monday on some of the most serious charges ever brought against a senior politician in Iran's Islamic government. Nouri, a towering figure in the reformist camp and Khatami's right-hand man, was ordered to appear before the court Oct. 20 ... FULL TEXT

* Culture minister condemns summons against reformist editor

TEHRAN, Oct 13 (AFP) - Iran's Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani condemned as "illegal and political" Wednesday a summons from the conservative clergy court to a reformist newspaper editor and former vice-president to answer a host of serious charges. Abdollah Nuri, who heads the leading Khordad daily, has been ordered to appear before the special court for the clergy on October 20, his paper said Tuesday ... FULL TEXT

* Iran denies suicide of suspect in dissident murders

TEHRAN, Oct 13 (AFP) - Iran's military judiciary denied Wednesday a press report that a second suspect in a wave of murders of dissidents here last year has committed suicide in prison, the IRNA news agency reported. A statement by the military coupled the denial of the report Tuesday in the reformist Azad daily with a warning that the publication of "lies" about the case could lead to prosecution for complicity ... FULL TEXT

* Tehran campus revue "blasphemy" trial to open next week

TEHRAN, Oct 13 (AFP) - Suspects held over a "blasphemous" play published in a Tehran student revue which outraged conservatives and hardliners here will appear in court next week, the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday. "The accused from the student magazine Moj (Wave) will be publicly tried on Wednesday before Judicial Section 1,410," a section of the courts reserved for press cases, the news agency said ... FULL TEXT

* Condemnation of arrest of woman editor by Reporters Sans Frontieres

TEHRAN, Oct 13 (AFP) - Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), the Paris-based press freedom watchdog, expressed concern Wednesday at the recent arrest of an Iranian woman editor and called on Iran's president to use his influence to have her released. Considering that the journalist had "not undergone a fair trial", RSF said it regarded the arrest "as an arbitrary detention and as a violation of press freedom", in a faxed statement received by AFP here ... FULL TEXT


"As Fragile as a Crystal Glass"
Press Freedom in Iran

Human Rights Watch
October 1999

Press freedom and state regulation of the press have emerged as crucial issues in the struggle for power between reformists and conservatives in Iran today. The independent press is the preeminent mouthpiece of the reform movement, and thus a target for conservatives. Since coming to power in August 1997, President Mohammad Khatami has been credited with presiding over greater freedom of the press and more open public discussion on a wide range of issues. But while the Iranian press has displayed great diversity and vibrancy, basic legal safeguards for freedom of expression, the right to which is enshrined in international law, are lacking. As a consequence, the press remains vulnerable to the shifting currents of Iranian politics, and journalists, writers and editors continue to be subject to recurrent waves of repression ... FULL TEXT

October 8

* Iran holds six new suspects for dissidents' murders

TEHRAN, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities arrested six new suspects in connection with a series of dissidents' murders last year blamed on rogue secret police agents, Iranian state television reported on Thursday. It quoted a statement from the military courts as saying an investigation had been launched into the role of the six in the murders of veteran opposition leader Dariush Forouhar, his wife Parvaneh, and two outspoken dissident intellectuals ... FULL TEXT

October 7

* Banned daily returns to news-stands under new name

TEHRAN, Oct 7 (AFP) - Senior staff members of the leading reformist daily Neshat, banned for "insulting Islam," defied the conservative-led clampdown against the moderate press Thursday by bringing a new daily to the newsstands. "Asr-e Azadegan (Era of the Freed) is Neshat's replacement," a staff member told AFP. Editor-in-chief of the new moderate paper, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, and his main deputy, Hamid-Reza Jalaipur, retained the positions they had held at Neshat on the new newspaper ... FULL TEXT

* Why we keep publishing
Neshat's successor hits the news-stands

Editorials (in Persian) by:
- Mashallah Shamsolvaezin
- Hamid-Reza Jalaie-pour

October 6

* Pro-reform Iran editors ready new daily after ban

TEHRAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) - A team of reformist Iranian editors was busy on Wednesday preparing to launch yet another newspaper after hardliners banned three previous dailies, a source in the newsroom said. ``God willing, Asr-e Azadegan newspaper will be on the newsstands on Thursday,'' the source close to publisher Ghafour Garshasbi told Reuters. ``This newspaper will continue the same reformist line as its predecessors,'' he said ... FULL TEXT

* Iran arrests relatives of dissidents' murder suspects: paper

TEHRAN, Oct 6 (AFP) - Iranian police have arrested relatives of the alleged murderers of several intellectual opponents of the regime, including the wife of the man charged with killing a leading dissident couple, the press here said Wedndesday. The relatives are being questioned by police, the English-language Tehran Times said, quoting an "informed source." ... FULL TEXT

October 5

* Iran closes publisher over ``blasphemous'' book

TEHRAN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Iran has suspended the licence of a publishing house which printed a book deemed blasphemous to Shi'ite Islam, an official at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry said on Tuesday. The official told Reuters the book Divaneh-ye Dovvom (The Second Lunatic) was written in what he termed a ``cryptic style'' and disparaged the 12th Imam, whose return to earth to usher in an era of perfect justice is eagerly awaited by pious Shi'ites ... FULL TEXT

October 3

* Iran recommends legal action over satirical play

TEHRAN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities said on Sunday they had completed an investigation into a satirical play, which had caused an uproar among hardliners, and transferred the files of four suspects to the judiciary for legal action. The official IRNA news agency quoted a statement by the intelligence ministry as saying the suspects had confessed ``to being guilty'' over the play ... FULL TEXT

* Leading liberal editor summoned to Iranian court

TEHRAN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - A leading pro-reform editor was summoned to Iran's press court on Sunday in connection with an earlier case that saw his newspaper, Neshat, banned for insulting Islam, a newspaper colleague said. Mashallah Shamsolvaezin's court appearance comes a day after he and a colleague appealed to reformist President Mohammad Khatami to break his silence on the mounting pressures against the pro-reform press ... FULL TEXT

October 2

* Editors ask Khatami to defend the press

TEHRAN, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Two leading Iranian journalists appealed to reformist President Mohammad Khatami on Saturday to break his silence on the mounting pressures against his allies in the press. In an open letter to the president, Hamid Reza Jalaiepour and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin asked Khatami -- who has fostered Iran's independent press in his campaign for a civil society -- to shield them from their powerful critics ... FULL TEXT

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