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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
Iran's media war hots up
Newspapers on sale in Tehran
Dozens of pro-reform publications have been closed
A new pro-reform newspaper has gone on sale in Iran - the third to be launched this month.

This brings the number of pro-reform publications to seven.

But in a separate move, a weekly paper was banned and the editor of yet another publication called in for questioning, as tension between hardliners and reformists heats up ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 8 June.

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami
President Khatami: Backing reforms
The new paper, Towse'e, or Development, carried a front-page report on the conservative judiciary's closure over the past year of more than 30 publications - almost all of them sympathetic to the reformists.

On Wednesday, the editor of another new pro-reform paper was summoned to the Tehran state officials' court for questioning, according to the official Iranian news agency, IRNA.

Some 30 complaints from a raft of officials and organisations, including the intelligence ministry and Ministry of Prisons, have been levied at Yussef Pur, editor of Siassat-e-Ruz.

The newspaper has just published its ninth edition.

Mr Pur was questioned for two hours and has a week to respond to the complaints, IRNA reported.


IRNA also reported that a court in Zanjan, west of the capital Tehran, banned the weekly Amin-e-Zanjan for "sowing seeds of discord by publishing divisive articles".

IRNA reported that the paper had been closed because its articles were considered "likely to provoke riots in the city".

The director and other staff were charged with "disrupting security and tranquillity", the agency said.

Reformist publications have championed President Mohammed Khatami's efforts to grant greater personal freedoms, despite attempts to muzzle them by the conservative-controlled judiciary.

The hard-liners, who control the state-run radio and television, have accused reformists of undermining the principles of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

President Khatami has not yet announced whether he will seek a second - and final - term in the forthcoming election.

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