Iran Shuts Newspaper in Media Crackdown

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Iran closed a daily newspaper and a magazine, one of the publications said Tuesday, in a stiffening crackdown on the press.

Iran’s hard-line judiciary has closed down more than 100 pro-democracy publications in the past five years on vague charges of insulting religious sensibilities or top clerics.

Since the election of ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the government has given the judiciary a free hand to prosecute its crackdown against the media, which began in 2000.

Under former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, the Culture Ministry backed media organizations against the hard-line judiciary.

Asia, a daily newspaper, and Nour-e-Banovan magazine were ordered closed Monday by the Culture Ministry, which monitors the press. No reasons were given.

“We got a telephone call from the Culture Ministry that said we have no permission to continue printing our paper,” said Asia spokesman Navid Jamshidi. “Officials have given no reasons. We don’t know why our paper has been ordered closed.”

Officials at the office of Alaeddin Zohourian, a senior Culture Ministry official, confirmed the report but refused to give details.

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