THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Covering opposition may be barred in Iran

Associated Press / August 27, 2010

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian media have been prohibited from mentioning opposition leaders, including former president Mohammad Khatami, under a purported media directive that would further strengthen the government’s grip over the remaining news outlets.

The document, which has appeared this week on reform websites, requires Iranian newspapers and news agencies to shun any coverage or images of Khatami and the former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi — who allege massive vote fraud in last year’s reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian authorities have not commented on the letter, reportedly signed by the chief of domestic press at the ministry that oversees the media. It was not possible to independently verify its authenticity yesterday.

If true, however, it would be another step by Iran to control the media after closing nearly all reformist publications and limiting Internet access since the disputed elections.

The reported ban would actually change little, because progovernment media have dropped most coverage of the opposition or refer to its members as “enemies’’ or other indirect references. Opposition supporters have relied on Internet outreach through social networking sites.

The letter cited on the reformist sites says the ban is needed to avoid the “negative effects’’ of political dissent.

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