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Iran: Baztab website office in Tehran closed

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Iranian Baztab website on 24 September

Following seven months of extreme pressure from the government on the Judiciary, the office of the Baztab website in Tehran was finally sealed by officials from Tehran Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday afternoon [18 September].

According to this report, Baztab officials have refrained from updating the site since in an attempt to rectify the problem. The Baztab website has been filtered by the government filtering taskforce in accordance with a government ratification and without a court order since 24 Bahman [13 February].

On the last working day of 1385 [2006] the Administrative Justice Court in a response to Baztab's complaint ordered the temporary halt of filtering of Baztab's site and the filter was removed for a few days. However, due to the prompt reaction of government officials filtering was resumed after the New Year holidays.

Baztab executives requested a review in the situation in a letter to the government filtering taskforce around the sec! ond half of Farvardin [Beginning of April] but six month later they still have not received a reply.

Despite the filtering, the employees of Baztab website have continued their media activities and been able to secure the title of the most visited Farsi news site. The expert and principled critiques published by the site have always been influential in the performance of officials, particularly government bodies. However, the very influence of the site on public opinion has led to increased pressure form government officials, particularly in the run up to the election.

According to the available information, the filtering taskforce has rejected a review of the situation and insisted on its previous decision. The government, particularly the president's legal office, has filed several complaints against this filtered site and whilst exerting pressure on the judiciary it has called for the ban of Baztab internet site in accordance with the law.

Aft! er several months Judicial officials finally succumbed to government p ressure and the officials of Tehran Prosecutor's Office sealed the office of Baztab website last Wednesday.

Source: Baztab website, Tehran, in Persian 1414 gmt 24 Sep 07



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