An Iranian official has confirmed the arrests of four journalists from the country's leading reformist newspaper. Tehran's prosecutor has accused the members of Sharq newspaper's editorial team of security-related crimes and said an investigating is ongoing.
VOA’s Susan Yackee spoke about the arrests and the media situation in Iran in general with Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Program Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Mohamed Abdel Dayem believes current media restrictions in Iran are not sustainable in the long run
According to Dayem, “security-related crimes” in Iran today means reporting the news or anything that is even mildly outside of the government’s editorial line. And of additional concern, says he, is the fact that Sharq is one of the few remaining dailies in Iran – a paper that, in fact, had been shut down for a long time by the government and only had resumed publishing few months ago.
CPJ indicates that 145 journalists around the globe are imprisoned today because of their reporting – the highest number since 1996, when the number stood at 185. Dayem says that Iran today leads the list together with China with 34 jailed journalists each, or roughly half of the total number. He adds that in Iran’s case the numbers are especially troubling because they also show that arrests have been continuous since the unrest triggered by the presidential election in June of last year. Basically, says he, the situation reflects a “revolving door” policy in which the government releases some journalists only to arrest new ones.
But Dayem believes that Tehran will not be able to continue this policy for the long term.
“It’s a war against information, and the day will come when the Iranian authorities will have to realize that this attitude is not sustainable. You cannot be at war with journalism at large ad infinitum,” says he.