0600 GMT: Press Watch. In a sudden escalation of repression of newspapers and websites, regime forces have arrested at least 12 journalists, raided the offices of four reformists publications, and suspended a leading conservative paper linked to top politician Mohsen Rezaei.
The crackdown began with the detentions of Milan Fadai Asl, a reporter for the Iranian Labor News Agency, and Soleiman Mohammadi, an editor with Bahar.
Yesterday morning, we noticed that we could not access Tabnak, the site connected to Mohsen Rezaie --- former head of the Revolutionary Guards, current Secretary of the Expediency Council, and Presidential candidate in 2009. No formal announcement of the suspension was issued, but the Filtering Committee said it was on the orders of the Tehran Prosecutor General.
On Sunday afternoon, security forces stormed the offices of the reformist dailies Shargh, Etemad, and Bahar and the weekly Aseman. At least ten journalists were taken away.
Of course, detentions and bans are far from new in the Islamic Republic, but the sudden rush this weekend raises the question: Why?
Was there a specific incident, perhaps one that needed to be covered up, that triggered the assaults? Is this the outgrowth of political in-fighting? Or is this another stage in the regime's concern over "free elections" and those who dare mention the two words, five months before the Presidential ballot?
So far, we only have the standard rhetoric around such events, with Mehr saying the reformist publications were raided because of connections to "anti-revolutionary" elements abroad.EA WorldView: EA Iran