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Reformist Iranian Newspapers Closed

20 June 2005 -- Two leading reformist dailies in Iran did not publish today after printing a letter critical of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Journalists say the "Eqbal" and "Aftab-e Yazd" newspapers were closed last night on orders of the Tehran Prosecutor's Office.

It is not clear how long the newspapers will be barred from publishing.

The open letter to Khamenei was sent by moderate cleric Mehdi Karrubi. Karrubi finished third in the 17 June presidential election. In his letter, Karrubi said military organizations broke the law by supporting hard-line Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad finished second in the poll. He will now contest a runoff on 24 June against former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

State media in Iran carried no reports on Karrubi's letter.

Criticizing the supreme leader is a crime in Iran. Many journalists have been tried and dozens of newspapers closed in Iran for similar offenses in recent years.