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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Apr 2000

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Apr 2000
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There is one message totalling 86 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Leading Iran Journalist Jailed

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Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 21:13:25 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Leading Iran Journalist Jailed

Leading Iran Journalist Jailed

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A media crackdown by Iranian hard-liners intensified
Sunday, with five liberal publications shut down and a prominent journalist
thrown in jail.

The latest developments came three days after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the
hard-line supreme leader whose powers supersede those of the elected
president, said there were 10 to 15 reformist papers undermining Islamic and
revolutionary principles, insulting constitutional bodies and creating
tension and discord in society. His comments were widely seen as a warning to
all reformist newspapers and journalists.

On Sunday, police seized Latif Safari, director of the banned Neshat daily,
and took him to Tehran's Evin prison, his son, Amir-Hossein, told The
Associated Press. Safari, whose arrest comes a day after authorities detained
the nation's top investigative reporter, is the third journalist to be
imprisoned this month.

A press court ordered the closure of the reformist dailies Fath,
Asr-e-Azadegan, Aftab-e-Emrooz, and Arya as well as the leftist monthly
Iran-e-Farda, journalists at each of the publications said.

The editors of Fath, Asr-e-Azadegan and Iran-e-Farda met to decide their next
move, journalists said. They were not expected to defy the court order. The
news of the closure of Aftab-e-Emrooz and Arya came later.

Safari was sentenced in September to 27 months in jail for insulting Islam,
police and lawmakers and provoking riots with articles about an attack on a
Tehran University dormitory by police and hard-line vigilantes, his son said.
The raid last July, in which one student was killed, ignited riots in several
large cities, the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

An arrest warrant against Safari was issued last Wednesday after his appeal
was denied, said his son, who is a journalist at the liberal Asr-e-Azadegan
daily.

Before Safari's sentencing last year, the hard-line judiciary had closed down
Neshat, the nation's top reformist newspaper, on charges that included
insulting Islam.

Safari's arrest comes amid efforts by hard-line opponents of President
Mohammad Khatami to limit press freedoms and crack down on a liberal media
that has widely backed presidential reforms. Nearly every leading reformist
journalist has been summoned for questioning by the judiciary, which is
controlled by the hard-liners.

On Saturday, Akbar Ganji, the nation's top investigative journalist, was
summoned to court and arrested on the spot for violations of the press law.

Ganji, whose articles in several reformist newspapers had suggested a shadowy
group of hard-line officials were behind the murders of five dissidents in
the fall of 1998, is something of a national hero. His books about the
killings are best sellers.

Earlier this month, the judiciary upheld the conviction of Mahmoud Shams,
editor in chief of Asr-e-Azadegan, giving him a 2 1/2-year jail term on
charges of ``insulting religious sanctities.'' Shams has been a leading voice
for press freedom.

In March, Saeed Hajjarian, another leading journalist, was shot in the face
and gravely wounded. Reformist newspapers and officials have blamed the
attack on hard-liners.

The campaign against the liberal media could intensify if the strongly
conservative Guardian Council approves legislation passed Tuesday by
hard-liners who dominate the outgoing Parliament to give the judiciary more
teeth in curbing outspoken newspapers.

Khatami hit back at his opponents Saturday, saying the hardliners were
pushing the country toward ruin and despotism by claiming that reforms
threatened both Islam and Iran's revolutionary ideology.

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Apr 2000
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