Visas Denied for Some Western Reporters, Others Face Difficult Reporting Conditions Inside Iran
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned that this week Iranian officials have refused the visa applications of many foreign reporters who had applied to travel to Iran for coverage of the June 14 presidential election. Four reporters from different countries told the Campaign that despite applying for visas up to two months before the election, the final decision regarding their visas was delayed until the last week, and then refused without any information about the reasons for the rejection.
On May 29, Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini asked for increased security oversight of the coverage of the presidential election. Earlier in May, the Ministry’s Foreign Press Director had said that more than 200 reporters from 105 media outlets and 26 countries had requested permission to travel to Iran in order to cover the election. Iranian officials did not mention how many of the applicants were granted visas. According to one of the reporters who was denied a visa and who has asked for anonymity, one of the factors contributing to whether or not a reporter’s visa application was approved was the journalist’s previous reports during trips to Iran.
A Western reporter who did receive a visa told the Campaign that he was given a one-week visa, and due to the proximity of the election and the late notice regarding the visa approval, he will not be able to stay in Tehran more than 48 hours after the election. “We were told that during our stay in Tehran we cannot leave town. We have been assigned a translator who will have to be present during our stay and in our interviews with people,” he said.
Certain prominent news agencies have told their staff to mind their reporting style and to refrain from providing information to human rights organizations or even other reporters, lest they jeopardize their presence in Iran. “We work under very difficult conditions inside Iran. We may lose our visas at any moment for expressing an opinion about our conditions,” said the reporter.