The Prosecutor’s Office for Media and Culture in Iran has suspended the reformist newspaper Bahar on January 2, 2016 for allegedly publishing propaganda against the regime.
“The newspaper has been shut down for publishing propaganda against the regime and articles that harms the foundation of the Islamic Republic,” said an unnamed judicial official according to Mizan News Agency.
The reformist daily has been closed down several times before, first in 2000 just a few months after the paper was founded. Following a 10-year ban, it was permitted to reopen in 2010.
However, the newspaper was banned again in 2013, thus becoming the first publication to be closed down under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
And now history has once again repeated itself. The newspaper was according to Mansour Ghanavati, the managing editor of Bahar, suspended after it had published an article entitled ‘Decline of Power’, which criticized unnamed people in power in Iran. But the charges against the paper have not been made clear yet.
“The author had written an article of 4000 words, but we only published 2000 of them. We didn’t publish any content in violation with the law. The problem is that some foreign Persian-language media republished the full article,” Ghanavati told Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA.
“They shut it down very suddenly, around 10pm on Saturday. We had already printed 70 per cent of the Sunday issue when we received a letter via fax from the prosecutor’s office that prohibited Bahar newspaper from being distributed,” said Ghanavati, who the day after made a complaint to the authorities.
Speaking to Journalism Is Not A Crime, lawyer Lawyer Musa Barzin Khalife Loo confirmed that there is no legal basis for shutting down Bahar:
“The ‘Decline of Power’ didn’t contain any illegal content. In this case the usual procedures for suspending a publication weren’t followed,” he said.