A conservative-led Iranian oversight body has overruled the pro-reform parliament's bid to close a legal loophole used to shutter much of the nation's press, reports said Wednesday.
The powerful Council of Guardians rebuffed a parliamentary motion allowing papers to change from weekly to daily or regional to national publication without prior approval as "contradicting Islamic law."
The official IRNA news agency said the Council, which ensures that parliamentary legislation is in accordance with Islamic law, "rejected" the motion, which had been approved by the chamber on Tuesday.
MPs voted to allow the change of status without need of a new police investigation into newspapers' managements after such changes were used as part of a sweeping crackdown that saw the closure of more than 25 papers and journals since April, most of them pro-reform.
In taking its decision the Council also cited supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's August decision to block the reform parliament from debating a bill to roll back curbs on the press, IRNA reported.
Khamenei expressed concern at the time that much of the increasingly vocal press had turned into "bases of the enemy."
Iran's culture ministry, which is charged with issuing press licenses but can also issue temporary bans, has insisted that new permission from the police for a change of publication status is unnecessary.
But the judiciary has insisted that a new investigation into press chiefs is required each time a publication changes its frequency of appearance -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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