DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (AP) – Iranian media have been prohibited from mentioning opposition leaders, including former President Mohammad Khatami, under a purported media directive that would further strengthen the government’s grip over the remaining news outlets.
The document, which has appeared this week on pro-reform websites, requires Iranian newspapers and news agencies to shun any coverage or images of Khatami and the former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi — who claim massive vote fraud in last year’s re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian authorities have not commented on the letter, reportedly signed by the chief of domestic press at the ministry that oversees the media. It was not possible to independently verify the document’s authenticity Thursday.
If true, however, it’s another step by Iran to control the media after closing nearly all reformist publications and putting curbs on the Internet in the upheaval from the disputed elections.
But the reported ban it would actually change little since pro-government media have dropped most coverage of the opposition or refer to them only as “enemies” or other indirect references. Opposition leaders and supporters have relied on Internet outreach through social networking sites and others.
The letter cited on the reformist sites says the ban is needed to maintain a “calm atmosphere” and avoid the “negative effects” of political dissent.
There has been no immediate comment from the opposition leaders to the reported new media rules.