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Iran's President Rouhani criticizes hard-line officials for media crackdown

Iran's moderate-leaning president has strongly criticized hard-line officials for ordering reformist newspapers shut down.

Judicial authorities ordered two pro-reform newspapers — Aseman and Bahar — closed in recent months on allegations of questioning Islamic principles.

President Hassan Rouhani told reporters Saturday that it was wrong to close down a newspaper on its first offense just because one writer was seen as inappropriate. His comments were broadcast live on state TV.

Rouhani said his opponents were free to attack him. Hard-line media has denounced the historic nuclear deal his administration reached with world powers in Geneva last year a "poisoned chalice."

Iran's hard-line judiciary has shut down more than 150 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers, often on vague charges of insulting authorities, since 2000.