Warrant issued for arrest of opposition daily's editor



    MONTREAL, July 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders calls on the
authorities not to execute the warrant issued yesterday for the arrest of
Mohammad Javad Haghshenas, the editor of Etemad Melli, a daily newspaper that
is the mouthpiece of the pro-reform party of the same name. The warrant was
prompted by an article critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that was
previously posted on a blog.
    "Repressive measures against journalists who oppose President Ahmadinejad
or dare to criticise his policies have become commonplace," Reporters Without
Borders said. "The room for freedom in Iran was already considerably reduced
but it continues to get smaller by the day and the president is increasingly
being regarded as untouchable."
    The warrant for the arrest of Haghshenas was issued by the Tehran
prosecutor's office for "publishing false information designed to upset public
opinion." His newspaper has reportedly not been threatened with closure but
the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance warned it about making "baseless
allegations about the president."
    The measures were taken in response to an article in the 30 June issue by
Rasoul Montajab-Nia, a religious leader and member of the Etemad Melli party,
condemning President Ahmadinejad's much-criticised comment in May that the
hand of the Mahdi (regarded by Shiites as the twelfth and last Imam) was
"visible in the management of all the country's affairs."
    Montajab-Nia wrote in his article, which he posted as entry in his blog,
that such comments "undermine the beliefs of the people and are increasingly
mocked by the enemies of Islam." He was reportedly not notified in advance
that the entry was going to published in the newspaper. The Etemad Melli party
is led by Mehdi Kerroubi, who ran against Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential
election.
    Many publications and websites have been prosecuted or closed on
administrative orders for criticising Ahmadinejad since he became president.
The daily Tehran Emrooz was stripped of its licence last month after running a
series of reports pouring scorn on Ahmadinejad's economic management while
mayor of Tehran, before he became president.
    The council of state closed the website Baztab in March 2007 after it was
the target of many complaints brought by Ahmadinejad supporters.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org;
www.rsfcanada.org

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