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No independent coverage of presidential election campaign

(RSF/IFEX) - Paris, 10 June 2009 - Reporters Without Borders condemns the lack of balanced and independent electoral coverage in the Iranian media and the fact that at least 15 journalists have been threatened or summoned for questioning in the cities of Machhad, Ahvaz, Sanandaj, Khoram Abad, Khohdasht and Tabriz since the campaign for the 12 June 2009 presidential election began on 21 May. They were targeted for criticising President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who ran for another term, or for clearly expressing a political opinion in their articles.

According to a tally kept by Reporters Without Borders, the candidates running against President Ahmadinejad have had less than two hours to talk on national radio and TV stations while the president has had 10 times that.

In the four televised debates between the various candidates since the start of the campaign, each was given 40 minutes to speak. But on 10 June, Ahmadinejad got 45 minutes of airtime to himself to address voters. Furthermore, some of the reports broadcast after the debates have been biased in his favour.

"Iran's 46 million voters have been deprived of independent reporting in the national media throughout the campaign," Reporters Without Borders said. "Iranian journalists are monitored by the authorities and cannot give their fellow citizens objective coverage of the debates and issues."

The press freedom organisation added: "There are many state-owned newspapers but their reporting is all the same. The radio and TV stations are used by the government while the so-called opposition newspapers are used above all for factional in-fighting. They do not unfortunately serve as forums where opinions can be expressed freely."

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