Newspaper Closed for Publishing News of IRGC Commander’s Release
Report Noted Payment of $30 Million Bail One Day After Arrest
The major Iranian daily, Ghanoon, was shut down on May 7, 2014, by judicial authorities who claimed the newspaper published a “false” report about a former Revolutionary Guard.
Ghanoon’s report concerned the release of Mohammad Rouyanian, a former senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards and manager of the major Tehran soccer club, Persepolis, on the astronomical bail of 1 trillion toman ($30 million) one day after he had been taken into custody on May 6, on charges of corruption and financial fraud relating to his tenure as head of the Fuel Distribution Administration.
The Tehran Prosecutor’s Office ordered the closure of Ghanoon for its “illegal actions,” according to the state news agency, ISNA.
Ghanoon’s Deputy Managing Editor, Massoud Kazemi, told ISNA that he was served with closure orders from Branch 12 of the Tehran Culture and Media Court on charges of “publishing falsehoods to create public anxiety,” and “publishing content against Islamic standards,” and that the order also referenced an April 2014 warning the newspaper had received.
Kazemi told ISNA that the newspaper’s management was informed through a phone call from the Prosecutor’s office that the charges were brought against the newspaper as a result of the news article Ghanoon published about Rouyanian’s release and bail.
The Judiciary has neither confirmed nor denied the release of Rouyanian less than twenty-four hours after his detention. However, news websites, including shafaf.ir which is close to Head of Parliament Ali Larijani, also reported Rouyanian’s release and questioned who provided the $30 million in bail.
The closure of Ghanoon reflects the Judiciary’s continuing ability to arbitrarily restrict speech and freedom of the press, and to close publications at will.