The journalists' guild has launched a campaign to end a publication ban on 19 newspapers amid new efforts by hard-liners to impose greater restrictions on the press, a union official said Wednesday, quoted by the Associated Press.
"More than one thousand journalists remain without work. We have made an appeal to the judiciary to respect and protect the legal rights of journalists and we insist on our call to lift the illegal suspension order against the newspapers," Karim Arqandehpour, deputy head of the Journalists' Guild Association, told the agency.
He said the association has also been lobbying the new reform-led parliament to lift press restrictions.
Arqandehpour, editor of the now-banned reformist daily Mosharekat, also denounced an order by the Tehran Justice Administration requiring publications applying for a press license to supply a list of their employees for background checks, reported AP. The order could be used to prevent journalists with liberal opposition views from working in the press, reformist journalists say.
Hard-liners ordered the closure of 18 reformist publications and arrested several leading journalists since April. One of the newspapers ordered shut was a hard-line paper, added the agency.
The reform papers have been at the vanguard of the popular movement led by President Mohammad Khatami. Hard-liners oppose social and political reforms, which they view as incompatible with the country's Islamic principles.
Although no longer the majority in parliament, hard-liners still control the judiciary, broadcast media, and the military.
"The recent temporary closure of newspapers has seriously hurt the independence and impartiality of the judiciary ... the association demands lifting the illegal ban on the press," said an open letter sent to the judiciary on Monday.
Arqandehpour said the association is also lobbying parliament to revoke a press law amendment which grants greater powers of prosecution against writers and publishers. The amendment was added last month in the last session of the outgoing hard-line dominated parliament.
Lawmakers in the new parliament, which was inaugurated Saturday, have said that lifting press restrictions was a priority, according to AP – Albawaba.com
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