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Iran shuts down office of journalists association as Ahmadinejad starts his second term

Iran shuts down office of journalists association as Ahmadinejad starts term
A journalist shows is press card during a demonstration organised by French association Reporters Without Borders (RSF) near Iran's embassy in Paris, in June 2009. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday slammed Iran's "campaign of intimidation" against the media after offices of the main press association in Tehran were raided and closed.

Officials shut down the office of the Association of Iranian Journalists in Tehran on Wednesday night, just after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has reported.

Director Badr al-Sadat Mufidi, told the BBC Persian service that agents stormed the office with a warrant from Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's prosecutor general. The association had planned to hold a general meeting later Wednesday, BBC reported. According to the association's web site, it was founded in 1997 and has 3,700 members.

"The closure of the Association of Iranian Journalists is the latest attempt to intimidate and silence critical journalists," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator ‎‎Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "The authorities must put an end to their war against the media and immediately release all journalists who remain behind bars."

Meanwhile, in a meeting Wednesday morning with the Iranian Ambassador to the European Union and Belgium, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) General Secretary Aidan White said that up to 42 journalists held in jail should be set free and the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ), an IFJ affiliate, should be allowed to function.

"There must be an end to intimidation of journalists if there is to be a new dialogue," said White. IFJ says that the closure of the AoIJ, within hours of the swearing in of President Ahmadinejad for a second term after weeks of post-election unrest sends a chilling message about the country's attitude to press freedom.

After the meeting in Brussels, White said: "Government actions against media and journalists erode further the credibility and standing of the Government in national and the world opinion."

CPJ has also confirmed the arrests of three more journalists and the release of one.

Plainclothes security agents arrested Mahdi Yazdani Khoram near his office on Wednesday evening, the newspaper reported. Khoram is editor of arts and literature at Itmad e Milli, a newspaper owned by presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi. Mir-Hameed Hassan-Zadeh, with the Iranian Student News Agency, was arrested Tuesday, according to Parleman News, a local website. Hassan-Zadeh used to be the director of Ghalam News, a site affiliated with reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Reza Nourbakhsh, editor-in-chief of Farhikhtegan newspaper, was also picked up on Tuesday, according to the journalist association.

CPJ has confirmed the release of one journalist. Authorities released Sumaia Nusrati, who works for the Tehran-based Tehran Emrouz, on July 29, according to local news reports. She was detained initially on June 21.Iran remains the world's leading jailer of journalists with at least 38 behind bars, according to CPJ.

Date posted: August 7, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 286