TEHRAN - Iran's hardline judiciary ordered the conservative-run news website Baztab to close after receiving complaints that the site was "publishing false news," contrary to Iran's security guidelines, student news agency ISNA reported on Monday.
"Baztab was ordered to shut by the judiciary prosecution's inspector over complaints that the site was publishing false news contradicting the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) guidelines and contrary to the country's internal and external interests," ISNA said, quoting a judiciary official.
The report added that the head of Baztab "claimed that the SNSC had ordered his site to be filtered, because of it publishing material regarding Iran's nuclear case ... adding that he had only published material found in the rest of the Iranian media."
A check by AFP showed that Baztab was still functioning on Monday.
The former head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaie, is believed to run the website.
Iranian authorities have in recent weeks clamped down on what they call illegal websites, detaining a number of reformist journalists.
"These measures have caused us problems in foreign affairs and in diplomatic attitudes towards us," government spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh told reporters on Monday.
The European Parliament expressed alarm on Thursday at the deterioration in human rights in Iran, in particular over press freedom and the death penalty.
A motion passed by the parliament drew attention to the cases of eight journalists working for the electronic media, imprisoned for unknown reasons at an undisclosed location.
Ramezanzadeh also expressed concern about the journalists' detention and their lack of access to lawyers.
He said the government found instances of human rights violations "unjustifiable".
"We have disagreements with the Europeans on human rights, there are things that we consider as violation in their countries but certain acts executed in the country can not be defended in our foreign policy," he said.
Iran's judiciary has kept up a steady crackdown on the pro-reform press for several years, with scores of papers shut down and journalists frequently detained. Around 15 journalists are at present being held in Iranian prisons.