Iranian authorities have intensified their crackdown on independent media ahead of the country’s presidential election in June, says the New-York based rights group the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The organisation’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour said that Iranian officials were “determined to silence independent coverage of public affairs” in anticipation of the upcoming election.
“This offensive on the press is choking the flow of information, allowing the government to hold elections behind closed doors in the midst of a crippled economy and international tensions.”
The CPJ report claimed that Iran’s censorship apparatus resorted to various tactics, including “mass imprisonments, poor prison conditions, torture, denial of due process, harassment, Internet censorship, and routine banning of publications, to silence critical voices”.
It said that authorities had maintained a revolving-door policy in imprisoning journalists, releasing some while rounding up others. The group said the growing crackdown on free speech had resulted “in record numbers” of journalists fleeing the country. At least 68 journalists have fled into exile over the past five years, according to the analysis.
Shortly after the mass arrest of journalists in January, Iran’s intelligence ministry accused the Green Voice of Freedom and a number of other Persian-language media outlets of being part of network set up by British intelligence.
Later the Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi claimed the Iranian security forces had dealt a heavy blow to a network of 600 journalists operating against the regime.