New York Times: Security officials have raided one of Iran’s few remaining independent newspapers, arresting three journalists and a managing director, web sites associated with the political opposition reported Wednesday.
The New York Times
By WILLIAM YONG
TEHRAN — Security officials have raided one of Iran’s few remaining independent newspapers, arresting three journalists and a managing director, web sites associated with the political opposition reported Wednesday.
The arrests, made Tuesday, coincided with the publication of a special supplement by the newspaper, Shargh, that paid homage to Student Day, the annual commemoration of the deaths of student protesters in 1953. The section, titled “The Student Movement is Alive,” included interviews with government critics and amounted to a daring compliment to the student protesters and others who demonstrated after the disputed June 2009 presidential elections.
Iran’s official news outlets on Wednesday reported the arrest of four members of Shargh but made no connection between the arrests and the Student Day supplement. Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, the top prosecutor in Tehran, said in an interview with the ISNA news agency that the four were under investigation for “security-related offenses” but gave did not identify them or elaborate on the accusations against them.
Iranian judicial authorities have arrested or intimidated dozens of journalists and closed at least 10 publications as part of a broad crackdown on the political opposition since the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by a suspiciously lopsided margin that his challengers called a fraud.
Opposition web sites reported that security officers raided the Shargh newspaper offices twice on Tuesday, first arresting a senior editor, Ahmad Gholami, as well as two other senior editorial staff members while roughing up other staff members. Later in the day, the web sites said, officials returned to arrest Ali Khodabakhsh, a managing director, who has financed and run a number of newspapers and magazines now banned by the Iranian government because of views that are deemed politically unacceptable.
Shargh has been closed by Iran’s press censors on three occasions since it was started in 2003. The latest ban was in 2007 when the newspaper was accused of “violating public chastity.” Shargh was again given permission to publish this past March.
Students at universities all over Iran commemorated Student Day on Tuesday with modest protests within the confines of their campuses and on a scale far smaller than those in the months immediately following Mr. Ahmadinejad’s re-election.
None of the protests were reported in the state-run press. But opposition web site videos posted on Youtube showed gatherings of several hundred students at universities in Tehran, Ghazvin, Rasht and Hamedan chanting anti-government slogans and singing songs associated with the reform movement.
At least one video showed skirmishes with pro-government militia men whom opposition web sites reported had been brought in to suppress the protests. According to the reports, police made around a dozen arrests nationwide.
Hundreds of students have been arrested in the post-election crackdown, including a number of prominent student leaders who have received long prison sentences for charges such as “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.”. Many more have been disciplined or expelled.