Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ahmadinejad reopens FARS News Agency

Iranian news agency reopens after ban (AFP)

5 June 2008

TEHERAN - The Fars news agency, one of the country's most prominent news organisations and normally considered close to the government, resumed operations Thursday after a three-day ban for reporting ‘false news’.

The government shut down Fars on Monday, apparently for publishing a story saying that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had replaced the central bank chief with the first vice president, one of his closest allies.

The news agency, which resumed sending stories around midday (0730 GMT) Thursday, however indicated there may have been other reasons.

‘Until now the ‘real' reason behind the ban is still unknown to Fars,’ it said in a report.

The contested report, quoting unnamed informed sources, had said Iran's central bank governor Tahmasb Mazaheri was stepping down and being replaced by Vice President Parviz Davoudi. Fars later published a denial of its report.

The central bank chief's future has been the centre of intense press speculation since Mazaheri and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are reported to be at odds over Iran's monetary policy with inflation close to 25 percent.

Fars, which is known for its security contacts and regularly publishes interviews with top military commanders, is normally considered supportive of Ahmadinejad's government.

It is a relatively recent creation, founded in 2002, but rapidly became one of the most significant news organisations in Iran with a wide domestic network. The identity of its political and financial backers is not known.

The Iranian media scene, which contains a myriad of newspapers, Internet news sites and news agencies of all political colours, has been hit by a string of closures under Ahmadinejad. (Khaleejtimes)


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