Iran has stepped up arrests and told Iranian journalists that
they'll be dealt with as 'spies' if they work for foreign news
outlets, in an apparent attempt to tighten information flows ahead
of Green Movement protests scheduled for Thursday.
An Iran military official condemned all Iranian journalists
working for foreign media as "spies" and called for them to be
"dealt with in the harshest way possible" in the run-up to expected
mass demonstrations on Thursday.
Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri said that working with foreign media
should be declared a crime, according to the ISNA news agency. He
said the foreign press is "acting as a control room for a soft coup
General Jazayeri's comments were the latest in a series of
measures taken to stifle dissent and public communications about
Iran's political situation as the country turns towards the
anniversary of the 1979 revolution on Thursday. Supporters of the
opposition Green Movement have promised to be out in force on
Thursday. On Wednesday, the Iranian police said a number of protest
organizers have been arrested.
A renewed wave of arrests has increased the number of imprisoned
Iranian journalists to 47, the Committee to Protect Journalists
"Iran is No. 1 in the world in jailing journalists by a long
shot," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the Middle East and North Africa
program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New
York. "The next highest is China and they're in the mid-20s even
though they have a population of 1.3 billion."
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders pegged the number of
detained journalists and "netizens" at 65, "a figure that is without
precedent since (the organization) was created in 1985," according
to Secretary-General Jean Francois Julliard.
On Sunday, the public relations office of the Ministry of
Intelligence announced the arrest of seven journalists described as
"elements of a counter-revolutionary Zionist satellite station" and
in the "official pay" of US intelligence organizations. They were
later identified as working for the US-funded Radio Farda, though
the Prague-based organization denies employing anyone inside Iran.
Their arrest marks an increasing intolerance towards foreign
media. Unlike the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA)
television, the Prague-headquartered Radio Farda was tolerated and
would regularly interview Iranian politicians. …