Trump Urges Tehran to Let Reporters ‘Roam Free,’ Drawing Criticism, Some Praise

14 Jan

Trump Urges Tehran to Let Reporters ‘Roam Free,’ Drawing Criticism, Some Praise

U.S. President Donald Trump drew both criticism and a small measure of credit after taking to Twitter to chastise Iranian leaders over press restrictions in the Islamic Republic, whose recent acknowledgment that it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 aboard, has triggered massive street protests.”To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump Tweeted in both Farsi and English late on Saturday. “Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free!”To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Protesters chant slogans and hold a placard reading in Farsi “Your mistake was unintentional, your lie was intentional,” during an anti-govenrnment rally outside Amir Kabir University, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 11, 2020.Abbas Mousavi, and Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, responded directly to Trump’s Twitter thread, stating that “those who threatened, sanctioned and terrorized the Iranian nation are not entitled to dishonor the ancient Persian language.”Last year, CPJ ranked Iran as the 7th-most-censored country in the world, citing arrests and “harsh prison sentences on journalists who cover topics deemed sensitive, including local corruption and protests.””The government suppresses online expression by spying on domestic and international journalists, jamming satellite television broadcasts, and blocking millions of websites and key social media platforms, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran and U.S. Congress-funded Radio Farda,” the report says (Radio Farda is one of VOA’s USAGM sister networks).Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF, ranked Iran 170 out of 180 countries in its 2019 annual World Press Freedom Index, calling state control of news and information “unrelenting,” with “at least 860 journalists and citizen-journalists … imprisoned or executed since 1979.”The 2019 RSF index ranked the United States 48 out of 180, a three-slot drop from 45th place in 2018, as “rhetorical attacks from the government and private individuals alike grew increasingly hostile.””President Trump has continued to declare the press as the ‘enemy of the American people’ and ‘fake news’ in an apparent attempt to discredit critical reporting,” says the index, which cites White House attempts to deny journalists access to events of public interest, record-breaking spans of time without press briefings, and the 2018 revocation of a CNN reporter’s press pass.The Washington Post’s former Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian on Saturday called the ongoing anti-government protests a “make or break moment” for the Islamic Republic, where he spent 544 days in the notorious Evin Prison on politically motivated espionage allegations. Iranians on Monday staged their third consecutive days of protests.

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