Iran General NewsIran expels Italian journalist: report

Iran expels Italian journalist: report

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ImageAFP: Iran has expelled an Italian journalist who was reporting from the Islamic republic without a valid press visa, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — Iran has expelled an Italian journalist who was reporting from the Islamic republic without a valid press visa, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

Mohsen Moghadaszadeh, director of foreign press at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance which monitors foreign journalists in the country, said Stenio Solinas came to Iran on a "tourist visa and wrote biased articles."

Solinas works for the Italian daily il Giornale, he said, adding that "he could have applied for a press visa and legally worked here."

Moghadaszadeh's office is in charge of issuing press identity cards to foreign journalists who want to work in Iran.

"Every year hundreds of Western journalists come to Iran legally and freely report. But the unprofessional and illegal actions of the reporter and his efforts to create a negative atmosphere against the Islamic republic are surprising," he said.

Moghadaszadeh did not say when the reporter had been expelled.

The expulsion of Solinas comes on the heels of reports that Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini had delayed a visit to Tehran following comments by Iran's supreme leader about Israel earlier this week.

The expulsion also comes days after Iran confirmed the arrest of Roxana Saberi, a US-Iranian journalist. She was detained in January reportedly for buying wine. Buying alcohol is prohibited in Iran.

Last year, Iran expelled Hassan al-Fahs, head of the Tehran bureau of pan-Arab television station Al-Arabiya. Fahs said he was told to leave "due to the policies of the network and the work record of our Tehran bureau."

In April 2005, the Iranian authorities shut down the bureau of pan-Arab satellite television Al-Jazeera, accusing it of stirring up violence during the coverage of clashes in southwestern oil city of Ahvaz.

The bureau reopened 14 months later.

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