Leaders of Iran

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Mortazavi Press Trials in Iran

Press Freedom in Iran: "After the closure of Tous in September 1998, pressure on the press continued to mount. The independent newspapers Rah-e No (New Way), Tavana (Capable), Jame'eh, Salem (Healthy Society), Navid Esfahan (Gospel of Isfahan), Iran-e Farda (Tomorrow's Iran), and Mubayyin (Announcer) were closed by the Press Court. Adineh (Friday), a cultural monthly not previously known to have been the subject of complaints, was ordered closed by the Press Court in February 1999. In the cases of Jame-eh Salem and Adineh, the jury found them in violation of the Press Law but recommended minimum punishment, not including closure. The judge disregarded the jury's recommendations and closed them both. However, it is important to note that all of the above titles with the exception of Tous continue to publish despite the closure orders issued by the court. They justified their continued operation on the grounds that they had not received the formal closure order.

Following the Adineh decision, the jury protested the judge's action in that case by not attending the next hearing, involving a complaint against Keyhan (Galaxy) newspaper. This forced a postponement in the proceedings. At the second Keyhan hearing, the judge dismissed the six jurors who had absented themselves. Since then the Press Court in Tehran has not been able to convene because of the unavailability of the six jurors, who filed a lawsuit with the High Judicial Disciplinary tribunal against the judge claiming that he had acted improperly in dismissing them. In August 1999, the tribunal found that Saeid Mortazavi, the judge in the press court in Tehran, had exceeded his authority in ordering the dismissal of the jurors, but recommended no punishment. He remains in office.17 President Khatami also established a special commission to review the functioning of the press courts, but the result of the commission's review has not yet been published."

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