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Iran Shuts Down Newspaper over Revolutionary Guards Complaint | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for greater freedom of expression in the media, authorities shut down on Monday the Ghanoon newspaper for criticizing the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the newspaper said in a statement on its website.

Ghanoon said it been shut by the judiciary after complaints made by the IRGC’s Department of Intelligence.

According to the newspaper’s website, it has been accused of “libel and publishing falsehoods to create public anxiety.” It did not specify which reports had upset the IRGC.

Back in 2014, Ghanoon was temporarily banned over a report about possible corruption charges against a former member of the IRGC after he was released on bail.

The newspaper also came under attack in January when it criticized the way the Guards handled the arrest of 10 American sailors in Iranian waters.

It wrote that the video which aired on the Islamic Republic’s state television showing U.S. Navy personnel kneeling with their hands behind their heads was reminiscent of beheadings by ISIS terrorist group.

Iran freed the U.S. sailors in less than 24 hours.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari called the article “a big mistake” and said Ghanoon “must repent for what it had said”.

Rouhani came to power pledging more social and political freedom, but faces pressure even from his supporters for not delivering on domestic issues while he has focused on opening up to the world after last year’s landmark nuclear deal.

He said on Saturday after having dinner with journalists that critical Iranian media should be strengthened.