Iranian officials have detained 11 local journalists on charges of collaborating with foreign media, state-run news agencies reported.
The journalists, who worked for newspapers including Arman, Etemaad, Bahar, Shargh and the Iranian Labour News Agency, were arrested yesterday afternoon at their workplaces, the Mehr news agency said. They are accused of cooperating with Farsi-language media based abroad, Mehr said.
Iran’s judiciary will soon issue a statement on the matter, it added. News of the arrest was confirmed by the publisher of the Etemaad daily, Elias Hazrati, as well as a number of other journalists on the news desks of the other newspapers, Mehr said.
Iranian authorities often accuse western-based media of seeking to destabilize the Islamic Republic by publishing negative reports about the government. Officials are also sensitive to Farsi-language media such as BBC Farsi which attract a large local audience.
It isn’t unusual for Iranian authorities to crack down on the press in the period before elections. Iranians will vote on June 14. to determine who will succeed outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some 45 journalists are behind bars in Iran, according to a December report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.