Paper shut over attack on rivals of president

Iranian authorities shut down a reformist newspaper yesterday after it published a scathing attack by an aide to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the president’s rival conservatives, the latest sign of a split in the highest echelons of the Islamic Republic.

The aide, media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr, was also sentenced to a year in prison and banned from journalism, the Fars news agency reported.

Tehran’s prosecutor’s office ordered the daily, Etemad, to close for two months for “disseminating lies and insults to officials in the establishment”, according to Fars.

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In the interview in Saturday’s edition, Javanfekr hit back at critics who accuse Mr Ahmadinejad of being in the thrall of a circle seeking to undermine the Islamic clergy, saying they had “poisoned” politics.

“We have deviated from those friends, from their beliefs, behaviour and interpretations,” Javanfekr, who also heads the official Iranian news agency IRNA, said.