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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Court warns Khatami's brother
Protesting women
Iranian women protest the muzzling of the press
Tehran's press court has threatened legal action against a newspaper controlled by the brother of President Mohammad Khatami.

State radio reported that Judge Saeed Mortazavi had given a formal warning to Mohammad Reza Khatami, who is the director of the daily Mosharekat.

This is the latest action in a series of attacks on the press in recent days which includes the banning of 13 national publications in and the arrests of some journalists.

banned dailies
Final editions of two of the banned dailies
Mosharekat, which has a circulation of 150,000 and is linked to a pro-reform party, was one of the few pro-reform papers to escape suspension.

The judge said the newspaper had altered its format and its content without official permission.

"In its editions Monday and Tuesday, Mosharekat made substantial changes in its layout, content and headlines," the judge was reported as saying.

"Should this court warning be ignored, the appropriate decisions will be taken regarding the coming editions," he said.

This is not the first time that conservatives have rebuked the president's brother because of publications in his newspaper.

Reformist ties

The newspaper has ties with the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which scored well in February's elections.

Mohammad Reza Khatami won more votes than any other candidate standing for election in Tehran.

Reza Khatami
Mohammad Reza Khatami is the paper's director
The results have yet to be validated by the Council of Guardians, the conservative body which supervises elections.

The press court and the judiciary are also run by conservatives, who appear to be strongly suspicious of the growing power of the reformists.

Lawmakers have also brought in a new law to tighten press control but it has yet to be passed.

Enemy smiles

The 13 newspapers were closed on Sunday and Monday for publishing material which "denigrated Islam and the religious elements of the Islamic revolution".

The justice department said: "The tone of material in those papers had brought smiles to the faces of the enemies of the Islamic Republic and hurt the feelings of devout Muslims."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei delivered a strong attack on the country's pro-reform press last week.

He accused some newspapers of acting as bases for Iran's enemies, performing "the same task as the Voice of America as well as the British and American and Zionist television broadcasts."

He said: "They kill hope among the youth. They weaken the people's trust in state officials. They offend and insult the main revolutionary foundation... I do not know whose example these newspapers are following."

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26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
25 Apr 00 | Middle East
Hardliners turn up heat on Khatami
23 Apr 00 | Middle East
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Iranian reformist journalist arrested
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Court summons for Iranian reformists
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Analysis: Obstacles to change
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Iranian media reviews election results
21 Feb 00 | Media reports
Print media triumphs in Iranian elections
22 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran vote welcomed
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