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Crackdown On Media Freedom In Iran


Iranian newspapers

In the run-up to Iran’s presidential election in June, the Iranian government is intensifying its crackdown on freedom of expression.

In the run-up to Iran’s presidential election in June, the Iranian government is intensifying its crackdown on freedom of expression.


The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that at least thirty-seven journalists have been arrested in Iran since January. Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi announced in March that 600 Iranian journalists were part of an anti-state network and that the arrests were an attempt to "prevent the emergence of sedition prior to the elections."

As of the middle of April, at least forty Iranian journalists remain behind bars, the majority in Tehran’s Evin prison. These journalists are in addition to the sixty-eight who have fled Iran over the last four years and the three who have died while in prison, according to press reports.

Besides the recent arrests of journalists and the closure of several media outlets by the government, the regime is also increasing its control over the internet. Internet speed has been drastically slowed in Iran, and users are reporting that VPNs, the virtual private networks Iranians use to circumvent government censorship, are no longer working. The Wall Street Journal noted that the Iranian newspaper Ghanoon recently wrote, “Only in Iran: Election comes and Internet goes.”

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine says that freedom of expression, along with the unfettered flow of information, “is the moral equivalent of oxygen:”

“Information is how a free, healthy, vibrant and functioning society breathes. It is essential to building civil societies. And without it, aspirations are choked, economies suffocated, countries unable to grow.”

The United States, as the State Department noted earlier this year, “remains deeply troubled by the Iranian regime’s latest campaign of fear and intimidation to extinguish dissent, eliminate freedom of expression, and deny the Iranian people their freedoms.”

In a press release, the State Department called on Iranian officials “to conduct fair and transparent presidential elections in June that conform to the internationally accepted standards and uphold the rights guaranteed under Iran’s own laws and constitution.”
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