Iran: Growing harassment of journalists as presidential election campaign begins

The Islamic Republic of Iran has intensified judicial pressures and harassment of independent and critical journalists as the campaign for the presidential election begins. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the use of the judiciary to harass and prosecute journalists for simply doing their job and calls for Iranian media workers to be able to cover the election without facing harassment.

Ayatollah Ebrahim Raeesi, head of the Judiciary.

Several journalists revealed the judicial warnings they received from the authorities ahead of the presidential elections to be held on the 18th of June and in which only candidates approved by the authorities are able to stand.

Critical journalists that sought to report about the Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Ebrahim Raeesi’s background and human rights violations were subjected to pressure and a few of them were summoned to appear before judicial or security authorities.

On19 May, veteran journalist Hormoz Sharifian posted a tweet and which, in an ironic manner, addressed the judicial authorities saying ‘Sir; Could you please give me a list of candidates we are allowed to criticize so that we just critique them?’.

Ehsan Badaghi, a reporter for the Iran state newspaper, faced a similar problem. He wrote on his Twitter that the head of the Culture and Media Court contacted him to remark "very politely" the necessity of "observance of the law in election writings."

The judicial pressures and warnings are not limited to journalist and media workers but also to social media activists, who are also being summoned.

In a 25th May press conference, the spokesperson for the Judiciary, Gholamhosein Esmaily, formally confirmed that a warning has been sent to all media and news outlets concerning the election and campaigns.

Some media reports say that the Cyber Police and the IRGC’s Cyber Unit have been actively identifying journalists and harassing them.

Sajjad Abedi, the Chief Editor of the Talkhand Sisasi, a political comic page, also shared on social media that he had received a warning to avoid criticizing the electoral institutions of the Islamic Republic.

Abedi wrote ‘I announce here that I respect the decisions of the Guardian Council and I do not criticize it neither in my media nor on my private social media pages.’

The IFJ has repeatedly condemned the judicial harassment of Iranian journalists, especially on those who report on corruption cases.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “This is yet another example of how the Iranian government uses the legal system to clamp down on independent voices in the country. Iranian journalists must be able to report about the presidential campaign free from judicial warnings and pressures from the authorities”.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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