Iran arrests 14 reporters over ‘foreign contacts’

Updated 29 January 2013
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Iran arrests 14 reporters over ‘foreign contacts’

TEHRAN: Iran has arrested 14 journalists for alleged cooperation with foreign-based Persian-language media organizations, several chief editors of Iranian outlets said Monday.
The arrests signal a major escalation in a press crackdown that reflects Iran’s zero tolerance for those who work with dissident media or outlets considered hostile to the regime.
The chief editors of the arrested journalists told The Associated Press that the 14 were taken into custody Sunday night and Monday because of their “foreign contacts.” The editors spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals.
In recent years, Iran has denounced the VOA and the BBC’s Persian service, describing them as arms of US and British intelligence agencies. It has warned of severe repercussions for Iranian journalists and activists caught having contacts with these outlets.
The editors refused to say if the detained were accused of providing material specifically to BBC or the Voice of America.
Tehran has repeatedly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to provoke unrest in a bid to oust the country’s clerical rulers, and it has frequently accused opposition figures and supporters of being in league with the nation’s enemies.
Many Iranians regularly tune in to the BBC and VOA’s Persian-language radio and TV channels, despite a ban on satellite dishes and government attempts to jam the airwaves.
The arrests followed last week’s warning by State Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei, who said journalists who are in contact with “hostile foreign media” would be punished. Ejehi described such reporters as “serving the enemy’s purpose.”
The detained journalists — nine men and five women — were identified by their editors. They are from seven different news organizations, including five daily papers, a weekly and the semi-official ILNA news agency.
Some of them have spent months behind bars in the past over critical writings that were carried by foreign-based Iranian dissident media or writings that supported feminist activities.
One of the editors said three of the arrested were from the reformist daily Etemad. Three others were from the reformist Shargh daily, whose editor said they were arrested at the paper’s building.
Since 2000, Iran’s judiciary has shut down more than 120 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers on vague charges of insulting authorities.
Also Monday, the semiofficial ISNA news agency said the conservative Tabnak news website, close to the former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei, has been blocked. No reason was given.


Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

Smoke and flames rise from an oil storage tank that was set on fire amid fighting between rival factions at Ras Lanuf terminal, Libya. Reuters
Updated 19 June 2018
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Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

  • The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias
  • The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr

CAIRO: Libyan forces carried out airstrikes against a militia attacking key oil ports in the east, a spokesman said as Libya’s national oil firm warned on Monday of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination in the north African country.
A militia, led by Ibrahim Jadhran who opposes Libya’s self-styled national army commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, attacked the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr on Thursday forcing the National Oil Corporation to suspend exports and evacuate its employees.
The airstrikes late Sunday targeted fighters loyal to Jadhran, who are trying to seize the oil terminals, said Ahmed Al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA.
He said warplanes carried out airstrikes against “terrorist positions and gatherings in the operational military zone stretching from Ras Lanuf to the edge of the city of Sirte.”
Al-Mesmari called on residents in the oil crescent area to stay away from “areas where the enemy gathers, munition storages and sites with military vehicles.”
Jadhran said in a video circulated on social media on Thursday that he had formed an alliance to retake oil terminals. “Our aim is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said.
The attack by Jadhran’s militia caused “significant” damage to at least two storage tanks, the NOC said Monday in a statement. It warned of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination.
The firm called for an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Jadhran’s forces, adding that the closure meant the loss of 240,000 barrels per day in oil production. It advised two tankers scheduled to arrive at the ports to remain at sea until the situation was under control.
The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr. “This dangerous escalation in Oil Crescent area puts Libya’s economy in jeopardy and risks igniting a widespread confrontation,” UNSMIL tweeted on Thursday.
Jadhran is a rebel commander who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed dictator Moammar Qaddafi. In 2013, he proclaimed himself the guardian of Libya’s oil crescent including the ports of Al-Sidr, Ras Lanuf and Brega, which represent about 60 percent of Libya’s oil resources. His actions cost the oil-rich country billions of dollars.
He lost control of the oil crescent to Haftar’s forces in 2016.
Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising. The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias. Haftar is allied with the east-based administration that is at odds with the UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.