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Iran editor says Khatami media ban unconstitutional
December 10, 2015
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TEHRAN: An Iranian newspaper editor who defied a national reporting ban on former president Mohammad Khatami hit back at threats of prosecution on Wednesday, saying that such restrictions were unconstitutional.

Mahmoud Doaei, managing editor of the Ettelaat daily, was indicted on Tuesday by a media court for using a picture of two-time reformist president Khatami in Saturday’s edition of the paper.

Ettelaat also translated remarks attributed to Khatami in an interview he gave to Lebanon’s  As-Safir newspaper.

The ruling on Khatami, issued by Tehran’s prosecutor, amounts to a domestic media blackout and is linked to Iran’s disputed presidential vote in 2009 in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected.

Khatami, whose tenure was marked by unsuccessful attempts to open up Iran to the West, was among prominent figures who said the ballot was fraudulent and refused to recognise Ahmadinejad’s victory.

Despite the indictment Doaei used a front page editorial to write an open letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggesting that officials behind “subjective” directives, rather than editors, should be prosecuted.

“Ettelaat daily won’t accept it,” Doaei wrote, saying the media ban was not based on law or regulations and calling on Rouhani to tell Iran’s judiciary to “stop this unconstitutional procedure.”

“We will continue our rational process of reporting on the gentle, popular and distinguished character of the revolution,” he said of Khatami, calling him an “old friend” of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s first supreme leader.

Publication of the editorial was swiftly followed by the judiciary saying Doaei, an official media representative of current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had given a commitment not to breach the order.

“The managing director of Ettelaat has been summoned to the special clerics court.

He was investigated and a signed pledge has been obtained from him,” the judiciary spokesman said in a statement.

The apparent undertaking from Doaei was at odds with the rest of his editorial.

He said restrictions on coverage of Khatami breached the ex-president’s rights as well as going against freedom of the press.

Agence France-Presse

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