Iran's president criticises recent arrests of journalists

Iran's president criticises recent arrests of journalists
Hassan Rouhani has said arrests are down to hardliners 'misusing' remarks by the supreme leader on the possible spread of US influence in Iran.
2 min read
06 November, 2015
Rouhani said Khamenei's statements should not be 'abused' [Anadolu]

The decision by Iran's hardliners to arrest a number of journalists has been criticised by the Iranian president, reported the UK's Guardian on 5 November.

The recent arrests are part of an ongoing crackdown by hardliners in the country.

Hasan Rouhani said the hardliners "misuse" remarks made by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this week about increasing US influence in Iran as a reason to carry out the detentions, according to a report on 5 November in the state-owned IRNA.

IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling a November 4 cabinet meeting that hardliners were "exaggerating the case" and making baseless arrests.

     Hardliners are cracking down in reaction against the nuclear deal and ahead of crucial parliamentary elections in February

"We shouldn't detain one or two people, here and there, while exaggerating the case and saying there is a 'current' [US] infiltration in Iran," Rouhani said.

He also said he hoped everyone in the country understood it was not permissible to "abuse" Khamenei's statements for "personal, group and factional interests", reported the Guardian.

Early this week two pro-reform journalists were arrested in Iran. One of them had recently criticised Khamenei and the other had previously been arrested for acting against national security, reported ILNA.

Last month a court in Tehran found two poets guilty of insulting religion and spreading propaganda against the state.

They each face 99 lashes and a total of 20 years in jail.

Writer and blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari was convicted of "propaganda against the state" on 11 March . He was sentenced to one and a half years in prison, and two years of internal exile in the city of Tabas.

The hardliners are cracking down in reaction to the nuclear deal with world powers ahead of crucial parliamentary elections in February, said the Guardian.

Hamid Reza Moghaddamfar, an adviser to the powerful head of the Revolutionary Guards, said on November 4 that the crackdown against pro-western writers and journalists was aimed at fighting US "infiltration that is aimed at overthrowing [Iran's] system".