Thursday, September 27, 2012

Iranian President Ahmadinejad's Press Adviser Jailed

The Iran File

While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York delivering a speech to the United Nations, his top press adviser was taken into custody to begin serving a six-month jail sentence; he was "convicted of publishing material deemed insulting to the country's supreme leader," an Associated Press report published in Haaretz says:
Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who is also the head of the state-run IRNA news agency, is one of dozens of Ahmadinejad's allies detained since April 2011 in the fallout from a political feud between the president and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran's hardline political establishment slapped down Ahmadinejad and his supporters after the president briefly challenged an order from the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over the choice of intelligence chief.

An Iranian court convicted Javanfekr last November of "publishing materials contrary to Islamic norms," and also banned him from journalism activities for three years. The charges against him included insulting Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran. The semiofficial Fars news agency said judicial agents detained Javanfekr late Wednesday. IRNA said Javanfekr was arrested as Ahmadinejad, who had shielded his press adviser in the past from arrest, began his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
 The case against Javanfekr began after he wrote in an official publication that the practice of women wearing a head-to-toe black covering known as a chador was not originally an Iranian practice but was imported. This was considered offensive by hardline Iranian clerics.
His arrest comes on top of two others this week—the son and daughter of Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were arrested for essentially protesting against the conservative regimeas the Islamic Republic attempts to quell dissent and send a signal to reformers.

And last week, Reporters Without Borders said that two women journalists were arrested, bringing the total to at least 57 women journalists and bloggers who have been arrested and given jail terms since the June 2009 elections. This is undoubtedly bad news for free speech and democracy. But there is a silver lining, namely, that moderates in Iran are speaking out against hard-line policies that the majority of Iranians do not want.

You can read the rest of the article at [Haaretz]