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Top Politician Says Censorship ‘Should Be More Regulated’

File photo-Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani speaks during a press conference in Tehran, December 6, 2016

Ali Larijani, the speaker ofAli Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, told media leaders on June 1 that it should be more difficult for the authorities to close down newspapers or block websites.

“It should not be allowed to easily close down newspapers,” he said.

Larijani said it would be “beneficial” for the head of Iran’s judiciary to hold meetings with media representatives.

Iran’s judiciary is headed by the speaker’s brother, Sadegh Amoli Larijani.

He also promised that, if needed, parliament would revise legislation related to closure of the press.

Larijani mentioned that the government intends to send two draft legislations to parliament regarding media. He did not disclose any details.

From the early years since the Iranian Revolution, the closure of newspapers critical of the regime became more and more widespread. In the past 15 years, the practice has become so commonplace that the closure of a newspaper no longer warrants the surprise of journalists or observers.

Closures are also often accompanied by the arrests of journalists. Hundreds have been arrested in the 38 years of the Ilamic Republic, and some have spent years in notorious prisons, often being subject to torture and forced confessions.

The role of the judiciary, which is closely connected with the Supreme Leader and the conservatives, has been a central one both in closing newspapers and also in the arrests of journalists.

In June 2000, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei intervened with parliament to stop a new and more streamlined press law.

According to Reporters Without Borders, there are currently 27 journalists and weblog writers in prison, six of whom are women.