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Journalists in Iran Warned Via Text Message About 'Hostile' Groups

  • VOA News

FILE - Iranian journalists follow the country's parliamentary runoff elections at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Iran, April 29, 2016.

FILE - Iranian journalists follow the country's parliamentary runoff elections at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Iran, April 29, 2016.

Hundreds of journalists in Iran have received an anonymous text message warning them not to have contact with "hostile" organizations outside the country.

Iranian media say some 700 journalists and public figures received the text message Friday. The message said "all contact and collaboration with hostile elements based abroad, by mail or other methods of communication, is a crime and will be brought to justice." It also said the message would be the recipient's "last warning."

Iran bans citizens from having any contact with Persian language media from overseas, including Voice of America's Persian service and the BBC Persian service.

Iran has a recent history of arresting journalists accused of cooperating with foreign outlets.

In April, four journalists arrested in November were sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison, convicted of colluding with foreign governments and threatening "national security."

The Committee to Protect Journalists protested the sentences, categorizing three of the four as "reformist journalists." Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists said such convictions underline the need to "change the overbroad laws that lead to the harassment and jailing of the media."

On June 20, 2016, the Iranian reformist newspaper Ghanoon announced that an Iranian criminal prosecutor had suspended its license after a complaint from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. The newspaper's website said the paper had been accused of "publishing falsehood with the intent to cause disrupt in public opinion."

In April, Iran jailed a female employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which supports international journalists. Tehran accused Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who holds joint Iranian-British citizenship, of seeking to overthrow the Iranian government through her membership in "foreign companies and institutions."

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