Seven Reformists MPs Plan to Sue Iran’s State Broadcasting Agency IRIB for Defamation
Seven reformist members of Iran’s Parliament who were recently sentenced to prison for their political views will sue the state TV and radio broadcasting agency for alleging the MPs engaged in espionage.
On October 5, 2017, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s (IRIB) “20:30” news program displayed a blurry group photo of the MPs—Mohammad Reza Khatami, Mohsen Safaei Farahani, Ali Shakouri-Rad, Azar Mansouri, Mohammad Naimipour, Hossein Kashefi and Hamidreza Jalaeipour—while reporting on the arrests of alleged spies.
“We will definitely sue,” said Mansouri on October 10, according to the reformist Etemad newspaper. “Our lawyers were going to file this week because what was presented on that program was completely false. None of us have ever been detained on espionage charges.”
“IRIB should not distance itself from fairness just because one political faction dominates the organization,” added the MP.
Naimipour, another reformist MP shown in the group photo, said the lawsuit against IRIB is important as a matter of historical record.
“For years IRIB, and especially this particular program, have presented a lot of fake and false reports in a language that belongs to agencies unrelated to the broadcasting organization,” said Naimipour, according to Etemad, on October 10.
IRIB has routinely filmed and broadcast forced confessions by detainees on its national stations. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appoints IRIB’s chairman, and the organization promotes a hardline, conservative editorial stance.
On October 2, the seven MPs were sentenced to one year in prison and banned from political and media activities for two years after being convicted of the charge of “propaganda against the state.”
“Even in the best of times, the state broadcasting organization has acted as an anti-government faction,” said President Hassan Rouhani’s legal adviser, Majid Ansari, in an interview with the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) in March 2017.