Journalists: Iran trying to control presidential election coverage

June 12, 2013 at 7:14 PM

TEHRAN, June 12 (UPI) -- The Iranian government has imposed restrictions on journalists to tightly control coverage of the upcoming presidential election, media watchdogs said.

Applications from both foreign and domestic news organizations to cover the election in Tehran have been ignored or rejected, London's The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Severe restrictions have been imposed in Iran on foreign and domestic media to ensure coverage of Friday's presidential election is tightly controlled.

An Interior Ministry official said more than 1,000 journalists will cover the election, but efforts seem to be under way to restrict coverage, particularly by Western media, The Guardian said.

Reporters Without Borders, based in Paris, said Iranian officials had not issued visas to most of the foreign journalists who have requested them, and domestic media have been met with "harassment, restrictions and censorship."

Journalists who have gotten visas have been permitted neither to attend meetings of reform-minded candidates nor to contact government opponents or political prisoners' families, The Guardian said.

Only a few visas seem to have been granted to U.S. media.

Iran's culture and Islamic guidance minister, Mohammad Hosseini, said the government would closely examine 200 visa applications from foreign journalists to keep out "Zionist spies."

The Committee to Protect Journalists, the New York-based media watchdog, accused the Iranian government of seeking to deprive its citizens of meaningful news coverage by blocking news websites.

"The Iranian regime fears any voice that could challenge its official narrative, whether a local journalist or an international journalist at a Tehran hotel. They use different tactics to restrict international journalists, but the outcome is the same: Iranian voters denied essential information before Friday's vote," said Rob Mahoney, deputy director of the watchdog group.

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