Ayatollah Khamenei has led the country since the death in 1989 of the Islamic republic’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, and has strengthened the ultra-conservative policies of his predecessor. He controls Iran’s main political institutions and the national broadcasting network and is consulted on the appointment of the minister of culture and Islamic guidance, who was responsible for the arrest of most of the journalists detained in 2006. Khamenei regularly accuses the press of being used by foreign elements.
More than 50 journalists were arrested in 2007 and a dozen media outlets were temporarily suspended, but Khamenei insists that local journalists are very free to speak out. “The fact that some media outlets can freely criticise the government and the regime is a clear indication that freedom of expression exists, even if the country pays no attention to these criticisms,” he said recently.
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