Iranian government shuts down two publications

The Iranian government has closed a daily newspaper and a magazine without giving a reason, one of the publications said on Tuesday. Since the election of ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the government has given the judiciary a free hand to prosecute its crackdown against the media, which began in 2000. Under former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, the Culture Ministry backed media organizations against the hard-line judiciary. Asia, a daily newspaper, and Nour-e-Banovan magazine were ordered closed Monday by the Culture Ministry, which monitors the press. "We got a telephone call from the Culture Ministry that said we have no permission to continue printing our paper," said Navid Jamshidi, son of Asia editor-in-chief Iraj Jamshidi. "Officials have given no reasons. We don't know why our paper has been ordered closed," he said Tuesday. Officials at the office of Alaeddin Zohourian, a senior Culture Ministry official, confirmed the report but refused to give details. Iran's hard-line judiciary has closed down more than 100 pro-democracy publications in the past 5 years on vague charges of insulting religious sensibilities or top clerics.