Security Council Files Lawsuit Against Conservative Journalist for Critical Articles
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretariat has filed a lawsuit against a conservative journalist for “acting against the resolutions of the Council,” after he published four articles in a Tehran newspaper sharply criticizing Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policy and the Geneva Agreement about Iran’s nuclear program, Fars News Agency reported.
“Our Mouths Won’t Be Sealed,” “The People’s Nuclear Program and the Administration’s Diplomacy,” “Gentlemen, Turn the Bulldozer’s Head Towards the Enemies!”, and “What Broke Was National Pride, Not Sanctions Structure” are the titles of the four articles Hossein Ghadyani published in Vatan-e Emrooz newspaper.
The Supreme Security Council had earlier filed another lawsuit against Vatan-e Emrooz newspaper for its reports about the case of Crescent Oil Company, a controversial case under the review of the Supreme National Security Council for alleged corruption which the media have been warned not to report.
Although the recent lawsuits by the Council are unprecedented for the organization, the Iranian government has previously filed numerous lawsuits against the media. Reza Shakibaee, editor-in-chief of Vatan-e Emrooz, told Fars that in addition to the lawsuit against Hossein Ghadyani, the Supreme Security Council has also filed separate lawsuits against the newspaper for the same articles, for “acting against the resolutions of the Supreme National Security Council.” “This government organization had previously filed other lawsuits against Vatan-e Emrooz for reporting on the Crescent Oil Company corruption case and for publishing the title of ‘Nuclear Holocaust’ in criticism of the Geneva agreement,” Shakibaee said.
In “The Government Should Reconcile with Its Critics,” a new article he wrote for Vatan-e Emrooz today, Hossein Ghadyani said bitterly, “I consider my writings a strengthener of national security.” The conservative journalist added, “The Supreme National Security Council should pick on other individuals, not me, and must break other pens, definitely not mine. Based on my previous writings, I may expect gratitude, but never a notice. And the lawsuit is a very strange thing altogether.”
According to Iranian laws, the National Security Council can prohibit the Iranian press from publishing news related to national security. During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s era, the Council prohibited reporting on many subjects such as the Iran nuclear program, Iran-US relations, and the situation of reformist leaders under house arrest, either verbally or through official communications.
Recent actions by the Supreme National Security Council, headed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, illustrate yet again the stark differences between Rouhani’s pledges about defending citizenship rights and free flow of information, and his actions as Head of the Security Council. Many journalists expected Rouhani’s June 2013 election to provide an open atmosphere for coverage of news about the Iranian national interests, where proponents and opponents of government policies would be allowed to express their opinions. The recent lawsuits for the four critical articles, however, will eliminate any opportunity for critical reporting on the government’s restrictive and unpopular policies.