IFJ Accuses Iran over Massive Attack on Media and Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned that a massive attack on independent media in Iran which has seen the jailing of journalists and a continuing crackdown on free expression reveals the desperation of the regime to curb democracy.

"The rulers of Iran appear determined to stifle dissent and to isolate its people from the outside world," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It's a desperate but futile attempt to turn the clock back." 

According to reports, the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, has said in a memo to judges that measures are needed to contain the growing criticism of the government in the independent media. He reportedly singled out websites and satellites channels and called for prosecution of any person who cooperates with them.

The IFJ has repeatedly criticised Iranian authorities for their heavy handed way in suppressing independent reporting of the unprecedented show of opposition to the regime following the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month. The government expelled foreign correspondents and attempted to jam broadcasts of international channels and to block websites.

Scores of Iranian journalists have also been arrested, while others went into hiding to evade arrest. According to the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ), an IFJ affiliate, there are still 20 journalists in detention.

The AoIJ on 2 July cancelled under pressure from the Iranian authorities a meeting which had been called to condemn the arrests of their colleagues and expressed their solidarity.

"Iran must not turn its back on democracy and free expression," added White. "Without debate and free speech there will be no reform, no development, no future prosperity. That may be what extremists want, but it is not the will of the people." 

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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide