By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Since taking office in August 2013, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been the target of a relentless campaign by the country’s conservative media. While the president has no control over the judiciary, which is responsible for the majority of newspaper closures in Iran, Rouhani can issue warnings and temporary suspensions through the Press Supervisory Board.
According to the conservative Kayhan newspaper, the president has now taken the country’s premier conservative newspaper to court over “numerous complaints.”
Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi is one of the complainants against the paper, according to the June 15 article in Kahyan. Pourmohammadi has reportedly accused the paper of “publishing lies to [cause] damage.” Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan, appeared in court to defend the paper against the accusations. The editor of Kayhan is appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
One of the accusations against Kayhan is its reporting that the Rouhani administration had supported the moderate and Reformist “List of Hope” faction in the February parliamentary elections. The Rouhani administration said this was not the case, but Shariatmadari said Rouhani had met with this faction and his message for people there to vote “implicitly” supported the faction. Other Kayhan articles addressed in the complaints were about Iran’s natural gas deals and economic problems in the country.