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Hundreds of journalists in Iran have been warned against contact with “hostile elements” outside the country via anonymous text messages.

"All contact and collaboration with hostile elements based abroad, by e-mail, safe [online] portals, and other methods of communication is a crime and will be brought to justice," the message said, according to a screen grab posted online.

“This SMS is the last warning,” the message added.

Iranian media and journalists say some 700 journalists received the message last week.

Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari calls on the country’s cyberpolice to find the origin of the messages and bring those behind it to the judiciary.

He said the messages have created “worry” among media workers.

Lawmaker Mohammad Ali Vasili, who is the chief editor of the daily Ebtekar, has also called for action against those behind the threatening messages.

Some of the journalists who received the SMS said they would file a complaint.

A number of activists and journalists have in the past faced security charges for giving interviews to Persian-language media based outside the country.

Media watchdogs say journalists in Iran have to work in a climate of fear and censorship.

In April, four journalists arrested in November 2015 were sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison for "colluding" with foreign governments and acting against "national security."

Based on reporting by ISNA, Etemad, and AFP

Turkmenistan’s state media say President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has pardoned 612 prisoners, including 26 foreign citizens, ahead of festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

State media reported on July 2 that Berdymukhammedov had signed the order of amnesty "to further strengthen the unity and solidarity of Turkmen society."

State media did not reveal the nationalities of foreign prisoners released under the amnesty.

Berdymukhammedov has issued such decrees several times a year, usually on the eve of state holidays.

The former Soviet republic is one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world.

On June 30, a number of prominent rights groups signed a letter addressed to Berdymukhammedov asking him to release Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a correspondent of RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

The letter said Nepeskuliev was convicted on the "fabricated" charges of possessing illicit narcotics on August 31 and has not been in contact with relatives since September.

In 2015, the government passed a law excluding prisoners convicted of drug trafficking from state amnesties.

With reporting by AFP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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