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Iran Releases Journalists, Bans Moderate Publications


"Iran Dokht"
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iranian authorities banned a reformist daily and a moderate weekly magazine today, news agencies reported, a day after the release of six detained journalists.

The Students news agency ISNA said the press supervisory board had decided to ban "Etemad" newspaper "for repeatedly violating the press law."

The press supervision body also revoked the license of the magazine "Iran Dokht," close to defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karrubi, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

Several publications have been banned and many journalists detained following street protests that broke out in the aftermath of disputed presidential elections last year.

Moderate websites reported in early February the total number of journalists in detention had risen to at least 55, including the assistant editor in chief of "Iran Dokht."

Media reports today said six journalists, including Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, Ali Hekmat, and Mohammad Javad Mozafar who was also a rights activist, were released on bail from Tehran's Evin prison late on February 28.

Their release happened less than a month before the Iranian new year which starts on March 21. Security forces have warned the opposition against using it as an occasion to renew antigovernment protests.

"Etemad" was among the few reformist newspapers still publishing after the June vote. Leading business daily "Sarmayeh," critical of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's economic policies, was banned in November.

In August, authorities closed down "Etemad-e Melli" newspaper of pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karrubi, who came fourth in the June poll.

Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection in June 2009 plunged the Islamic republic into its deepest internal crisis in its three-decade history and created a rift within the ruling establishment.

Reformist opposition leaders and their supporters say the poll was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's reelection, an allegation authorities deny.

Hard-liners accused opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Karrubi of inciting unrest and called them "enemies of God," a crime punishable by death under Iran's Islamic law.