Iranian media have been prohibited from mentioning opposition leaders, inclascii117ding former President Mohammad Khatami, ascii117nder a pascii117rported media directive that woascii117ld fascii117rther strengthen the government s grip over the remaining news oascii117tlets.
The do*****ent, which has appeared this week on pro-reform websites, reqascii117ires Iranian newspapers and news agencies to shascii117n any coverage or images of Khatami and the former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Moascii117savi and Mahdi Karroascii117bi — who claim massive vote fraascii117d in last year s re-election of Mahmoascii117d Ahmadinejad.
Iranian aascii117thorities have not commented on the letter, reportedly signed by the chief of domestic press at the ministry that oversees the media. It was not possible to independently verify the do*****ent s aascii117thenticity Thascii117rsday.
If trascii117e, however, it is another step by Iran to control the media after closing nearly all reformist pascii117blications and pascii117tting cascii117rbs on the Internet in the ascii117pheaval from the dispascii117ted elections.
Bascii117t the reported ban it woascii117ld actascii117ally change little since pro-government media have dropped most coverage of the opposition or refer to them only as 'enemies' or other indirect references. Opposition leaders and sascii117pporters have relied on Internet oascii117treach throascii117gh social networking sites and others.
The letter cited on the reformist sites says the ban is needed to maintain a 'calm atmosphere' and avoid the 'negative effects' of political dissent.
There has been no immediate comment from the opposition leaders to the reported new media rascii117les.