Foreign Service Correspondent Thomas Erdbrink, writing yesterday in the Washington Post:
Iranian officials arrested a Japanese and two Canadian reporters during anti-government demonstrations this week and charged them with "unauthorized reporting," the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported Friday.
Is this an accurate report?
Erdbrink was not available for comment, but an assistant at the paper stated that the Fars News Agency is referred to as "semi-official" because it is considered to have ties to the government, and is not fully independent as the agency claims. This is likely standard form as well, as the BBC appears to similarly refer to the News Agency as "semi-official."
The Post article also seems to suggest that the Fars News Agency is actually "state run" -- although it is not clear what this means. It is also suggested in Wikipedia that the news agency "is well known for saying lots of lies and for unreliability."
Either way, whether this report is hyping a threat, or, far more likely, represents the actual capture of foreign journalists, it is chilling news.
Additionally, Erdbrink reports:
On Wednesday, authorities temporarily blocked all access to e-mail programs such as Gmail and Yahoo during the demonstrations to prevent people from sending images to foreign media organizations.
The Demonstrations, by those who don't think the current government is legitimate, were apparently in response to a state sanctioned event commemorating the 1979 Embassy takeover.
One wonders -- given the antipathy that we have seen from the far right toward President Obama (and likely would have seen toward a President Kerry) -- if the situation in 2004 were reversed, with Kerry winning, and disputed vote blocking measures propelling him to victory in the election swinging state of Ohio, what we would have seen in America subsequent to that.
At least on the protest side, would it have been much different than in Iran?
Even today, the far right is doing everything possible to question the legitimacy of the current administation, regarding an election which had no real outcome controversies as otherwise occurred in both 2000 and 2004.
Witness, as just one example, the incessant attachment to the "birther" assertion -- That Obama's birth certificate is "not real" and thus he can not be President, for one. The antipathy toward the Obama Administration's legitimacy is so out of control that even a National Review Online article that mocks the birther controversy as "lunacy" itself then, incredibly, resurrects the question as "legitimate."
Although again not nearly as pronounced in the U.S, very vague similarities between our two countries appear on the news side as well:
As more and more corporate takeover of our news here is occasioned -- something which undermines our necessary Fourth Estate check upon everything but perhaps upon what is needed most by government (protecting capitalism by promoting free competition, and protecting for externalities such as the environment and possibly health and safety) -- maybe, to a much lesser degree, we are becoming more like Iran in the sense of Authoritarian, top down, and concentrated, power and control.
It is certainly what the increasingly vocal far right in this country seem to want. And this story is being repeatedly missed -- most of all, of course, by that same increasingly corporate conglomeration controlled media.
Which once again raises the question: Why aren't the Democrats in Congress working aggressively to address our major media oligopoly and over corporitization problem?