Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Iran 172nd out of 175 countries in Press Freedom Index

Iran approached the bottom of the heap in a press freedom index issued Tuesday by international watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

The annual report, also available in Farsi on the group's web site, measures freedom of the press around the globe from September 1, 2008 to September 1, 2009.

Iran was ranked 172nd this year, falling even further than its 166th place in 2008. Its position was only better than that of Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea, respectively 173rd to 175th in the ranking. 'Iran has now reached the gates of the infernal trio at the very bottom, where the media are so suppressed they are non-existent,' said Reporters Without Borders in its report.

The Paris-based organization compiles its report with the help of questionnaires completed by media experts, partner organizations, journalists, jurists, and human rights experts. The index does not cover all the countries in the world and does not take into consideration purely human rights issues.

The questionnaire contains 40 criteria which assess violations against journalists - murder, prison, or torture - as well as against news outlets. The index is also affected by the level of impunity which the violators enjoy. Occupational issues such as self-censorship and financial pressure, particularly present in Iran where journalists are routinely laid off or prevented from working, are also parameters used in calculating the index. 

Reporters Without Borders stressed that the index should 'in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the press in the countries concerned.'

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Afghan president's web site removes embarrassing Ahmadinejad congratulations

Afghan President Hamed Karzai's official web site has removed an article reporting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hasty congratulations following the first round of the presidential election in Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai conceded in a press conference hours ago that he did not win the election outright and must now participate in a runoff against his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, on November 7.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been the only world leader to congratulate Karzai on his supposed victory in the first round of the election on September 18.

Though a search of the Afghan presidential web site still returns a result entitled 'President Ahmadinejad congratulates President Karzai on Re-election' (see above), the post itself appears to have been removed.

According to Fars News, Ahmadinejad had told Karzai, 'The Afghan people have picked you as an ingenious and devout leader.'

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