Iranian journalists warned by text message against ‘contact with hostile elements’ abroad

Special to

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds of journalists in Iran have been warned against contact with “hostile elements” outside the country via anonymous text messages.

“All contact and collaboration with hostile elements based abroad, by e-mail, safe [online] portals, and other methods of communication is a crime and will be brought to justice,” the message said, according to a screen grab posted online.

Iran journalists cover election results.
Iran journalists cover election results.

“This SMS is the last warning,” the message added.

Iranian media and journalists say some 700 journalists received the message last week.

Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari calls on the country’s cyberpolice to find the origin of the messages and bring those behind it to the judiciary.

He said the messages have created “worry” among media workers.

Lawmaker Mohammad Ali Vasili, who is the chief editor of the daily Ebtekar, has also called for action against those behind the threatening messages.

Some of the journalists who received the SMS said they would file a complaint.

A number of activists and journalists have in the past faced security charges for giving interviews to Persian-language media based outside the country.

Media watchdogs say journalists in Iran have to work in a climate of fear and censorship.

In April, four journalists arrested in November 2015 were sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison for “colluding” with foreign governments and acting against “national security.”

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