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Iran widens journalist crackdown before demonstrations

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Paris-based Reporters Without Borders pegged the number of detained journalists and “netizens” at 65, “a figure that is without precedent since (the organization) was created in 1985,” according to Secretary-General Jean Francois Julliard.

"Counterrevolutionary Zionists"

On Sunday, the public relations office of the Ministry of Intelligence announced the arrest of seven journalists described as "elements of a counter-revolutionary Zionist satellite station" and in the "official pay" of US intelligence organizations. They were later identified as working for the US-funded Radio Farda, though the Prague-based organization denies employing anyone inside Iran.

Their arrest marks an increasing intolerance towards foreign media. Unlike the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) television, the Prague-headquartered Radio Farda was tolerated and would regularly interview Iranian politicians.

“They thought the people’s protests would last no longer than a week but it’s now been seven months,” said Mahdad, a journalist who wrote for several now-banned newspapers and is currently in exile in an African country. “After the election they realized that everyone is a media, not only journalists.”

Dozens of Iranian journalists in exile languish in Iran’s neighboring countries or several European countries. Others have even been forced to search for work in Afghanistan, the only other newsworthy Persian-speaking country in the region.

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