Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted the foreign media following his personal decree banning the new reformist parliament from debating a motion to ease curbs on the press.
"Any moves aimed at satisfying Iran's enemies are faced with certain failure," Khamenei said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency late Wednesday.
"The foreign media, which embodies the means for international plunderers and dominators and are a tool of Zionist intentions, have not been able to hide their anger and hopelessness towards parliament's move," he said.
He said the foreign press was "disseminating lies and deforming truths to spark disagreements among the people" and expressed his thanks to the people and the parliament for their "support."
Khamenei added that parliament's rapid acceptance of his decree made it "clear that certain interpretations by the regime's enemies about the (parliament) are far from reality."
The new reform-majority legislature was due Sunday to debate a measure to roll back press restrictions passed in the waning days of the last conservative-led parliament.
But Khamenei quashed the debate in a rare personal directive, saying that modification of the press code was "not in the interest of the regime."
The move sparked a brawl on the floor of parliament, which in turn led to two days of protests outside parliament backing Khamenei's decree and calling for the expulsion of MPs who challenged the ruling.
The conservative courts on Tuesday closed down the Bahar daily, the last major pro-reform paper backing President Mohammad Khatami to be still functioning amid a press crackdown launched after the reformists won control of parliament.
Some 22 newspapers and magazines have been closed because of their content and several high-profile journalists arrested – TEHRAN (AFP)
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