June 20, 2016 / 12:30 PM / 4 years ago

Iran shuts down newspaper over Revolutionary Guards complaint

DUBAI, June 20 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities on Monday shut down the Ghanoon newspaper, which has criticized the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the newspaper said in a statement on its website.

The move came days after President Hassan Rouhani called for greater freedom of expression in the media.

Ghanoon said it been shut by the judiciary after complaints made by the IRGC’s Department of Intelligence.

The paper has been accused of “libel and publishing falsehoods to create public anxiety,” according to its website. It did not specify which reports had upset the IRGC.

Ghanoon was temporarily banned in 2014 over a report about possible corruption charges against a former member of the IRGC after he was released on bail.

The newspaper also came under attack in January when it criticised the way the Guards handled the arrest of 10 American sailors in Iranian waters.

It wrote that the video which aired on the Islamic Republic’s state television showing U.S Navy personnel kneeling with their hands behind their heads was reminiscent of beheadings by Islamic State.

Iran freed the U.S. sailors in less than 24 hours.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari called the article “a big mistake” and said Ghanoon “must repent for what it had said”.

Rouhani came to power promising more social and political freedom, but faces pressure even from his supporters for not delivering on domestic issues while he has focused on opening up to the world after last year’s landmark nuclear deal.

He said on Saturday after having dinner with journalists that critical Iranian media should be strengthened. (Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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