Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Iran

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 14 February 2013
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Iran, 14 February 2013, available at: [accessed 21 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Key Developments

  • Mass imprisonments used to silence critical voices; blogger dies in custody.

  • Authorities maintain one of the world's strictest Internet censorship regimes.

Since the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, the regime has continued its campaign against the press by imprisoning many dozens of journalists, harassing and intimidating others, and routinely banning reformist publications. Jailed reporters were subject to abusive conditions that included extended solitary confinement, physical abuse, and denial of family visits and medical treatment. Political blogger Sattar Beheshti died in state custody in November, the third journalist to die in Iranian detention since 2003. Fellow inmates at Evin Prison said Beheshti, 35, had been tortured. The authorities continued to censor the Internet, blocking millions of websites, including news and social networking sites, and announcing the creation of a national Internet that would enforce even stricter controls. In the run-up to the 2013 election, the regime stepped up its assault on the international press. After a Tehran jury voted in late September to convict Reuters on anti-state charges for a faulty video headline, the government suspended the agency's accreditation and banned its journalists from reporting. BBC journalists were also arrested, questioned, and intimidated throughout the year. In March, the broadcaster reported a "sophisticated cyberattack" on its email and Internet services that coincided with efforts to jam its satellite feeds into Iran. In October, Europe's largest satellite providers ceased transmission of 19 Iranian state-operated satellite television and radio channels in response to sanctions imposed by the European Union.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2012.]

Most censored country: 4th

Since the disputed 2009 elections, the once-robust reformist media have been suffocated by a government assault that has included the banning of publications and the mass imprisonment of journalists on anti-state charges. CPJ ranks Iran among the 10 Most Censored Countries in the world.

Most Censored Countries:

1. Eritrea
2. North Korea
3. Syria
4. Iran
5. Equatorial Guinea
6. Uzbekistan
7. Burma
8. Saudi Arabia
9. Cuba
10. Belarus

Imprisoned on December 1: 45

In an attempt to silence critical voices, the authorities have maintained a revolving-door policy for imprisoning journalists, freeing some detainees on furloughs even as they make new arrests

Journalists in exile: 68

Dozens of Iranian journalists have fled into exile in recent years due to harassment and the threat of imprisonment, CPJ research shows. Only Somali journalists have fled in higher numbers.

Lashes: 90

In addition to lengthy jail terms, the authorities also sentenced journalists to flogging. Online journalist Mehdi Khazali was sentenced in February to 14 years in prison, 10 years in exile, and 90 lashes for "insulting the supreme leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Other cases of flogging:

25: Lashes for Mahmoud Shokrayeh for drawing a cartoon that allegedly insulted Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, a conservative member of parliament.

74: Lashes and four years in prison for Shiva Nazar Ahari, a blogger and founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, on anti-state charges in connection with her coverage of political gatherings.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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