By Nader Uskowi
Iran expelled Agence France-Presse (AFP) deputy bureau chief in Tehran, Jay Deshmukh, on Friday. The authorities did not give any explanation for their decision. Deshmukh, a 40-year-old Indian national, had been in the country since January 2009.
"Jay Desmukh, in common with the whole of the Tehran bureau, does a great job and with a professionalism that is universally recognized," said Emmanuel Hoog, AFP chief executive, in Paris. "Thus to attack this journalist and AFP, as the Iran authorities have done, is totally unjust and unjustifiable." [AFP, 11 March].
AFP reporting from Iran has been among the most professional and balanced sources of news from the country. Uskowi on Iran regularly uses AFP dispatches, including those written by Mr. Desmukh, and regrets the decision by Iranian authorities to expel him.
We are also concerned for the implications of this decision on the freedom of press in Iran. Many Iranian journalists are in jail. Coverage by foreign correspondents is largely restricted. Most western television and radio networks are systematically jammed in the capital Tehran and in most big cities. The authorities also block many of the Internet websites based abroad.