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Pro-reform daily closed one day after publishing first issue in five years

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the closure of pro-reform daily "Yas-e-no"'s on 16 May 2009, immediately after it brought out its first issue in five years. The mouthpiece of the Participation Front, the main opposition party, it was closed on the orders of the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance (an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance) at Tehran prosecutor general Said Mortazavi's request.

"We call for the immediate reopening of this newspaper," Reporters Without Borders said. "With just a month to go to the presidential election, it is vital that all political parties have equal and fair use of newspapers and radio and TV stations to relay their views."

The issue which "Yas-e-no" had managed to publish on 16 May, after a five-year legal battle, openly supported Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the presidential candidate backed by the Participation Front.

"Yas-e-no" and another leading pro-reform daily, "Sharq", were raided and closed on 18 February 2004 (on the eve of a parliamentary election run-off), a day after publishing extracts of a letter from reformist parliamentarians to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, blaming him for what they called an "electoral coup d'état," namely a ban on many pro-reform candidates.

"Yas-e-no" appealed against the closure order, beginning a five-year legal wrangle that ended in February of this year, when a Tehran court imposed a fine of 100,000 toman (approx. 150 euros) on the newspaper's editor, Mohammad Naimipour.

Mousavi himself was able to bring out the first issue of his own newspaper, "Kalameh Sabz", on 18 May.

Meanwhile, Nikzad Zangane, a journalist who defends women's rights in her blog, was released on 17 May after being held for 17 days. There is still no word on four other journalists (all men) who, like Zangane, were arrested during May Day demonstrations on 1 May in Tehran and who are still being held.

Zangane's release brings to 13 the number of journalists and bloggers currently detained in Iran, including one woman.
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