Iran has arrested 11 journalists working for media outlets seen close to the country’s marginalized reformists for their alleged cooperation with foreign Persian press, local reports said on Monday.
The arrests come as Iran gears up for its June 14 presidential election, after the result of the previous June 2009 vote triggered protests in Tehran and other cities, sparking a bloody crackdown by the regime on demonstrators.
Iran’s Fars news agency reported early Monday that “the journalists close to anti-revolutionary movement” were arrested Sunday night on a “warrant issued by the judiciary.”
In a separate report the Mehr news agency, without giving a source, reported that the journalists were rounded up from their work places on charges of “cooperation with Persian-language anti-revolutionary media.”
Both agencies did not elaborate, but in Iran charges of anti-revolutionary activities usually suggests cooperation with overseas bodies.
The detainees work for various reformist outlets such as Shargh, Arman, Bahar and Etemad newspapers, the Aseman weekly, as well as the ILNA news agency, which focuses on social and labor issues, according to Mehr.
Fars identified the arrested journalists as Sasan Aghaei, Pouria Alami, Emily Amraei, Javad Daliri, Milad Fadaei, Narges Jodaki, Soleiman Mohammadi, Akbar Montajabi, Pejman Mousavi, Motahareh Shafiey and Nasrin Takhayori.
Iranian media said the office of Tehran’s prosecutor was to issue a statement on the arrests.
Tehran deems as hostile the Persian services of various international media, including the BBC Persian, the Voice of America and Radio Farda -- a US-funded Prague-based Persian radio.
The Islamic republic’s press watchdog has banned several publications, mostly reformist journals, for breaching its strict regulations since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 45 journalists were in Iranian prisons at the start of December 2012.