Iranian polls open to foreign media

June 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM   |   Comments

TEHRAN, June 13 (UPI) -- More than 400 reporters from 39 countries are on hand to cover the Iranian presidential election, the official government news agency said Thursday.

Iranians head to their polling stations Friday to choose their next president. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is ineligible to compete because of term limits.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported 421 correspondents from 39 countries -- from the United States to North Korea -- have been provided with the means to broadcast "direct pictorial reports" of election events.

Candidate and former Oil Minister Mohammad Qarazai told National Public Radio the election was a "social instrument" meant to broadcast Iranian power to the international community. Reformist leaders in Iran, however, suggested the election would be rigged.

The U.S. State Department said last month there were signs Iranian authorities were restricting Internet and mobile phone networks ahead of the vote. Similar barriers, as well as widespread news media restrictions, were enacted following controversial elections in 2009.

Iranian Minister of Culture Mohammad Hosseini said in a separate IRNA report the foreign news media were creating tensions and presenting false information about the Iranian election.

He said a high voter turnout Friday would send a message about Iranian strength.

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