Iran judiciary chief hits back at Rowhani

Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Larijani reacted to remarks by President Hassan Rowhani in which he appeared to rebuke both the judiciary and some local media

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Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani reacted sharply on Monday to comments by President Hassan Rowhani in which he appeared to criticise both the judiciary and some local media.

The media benefits from “a permanent security margin... so that not only can they say whatever they want, but they also sometimes act like the secret police,” Rowhani told representatives of around 600 media outlets in Tehran on Sunday.

“You learn from some publications who will be arrested tomorrow, what is going to be closed down tomorrow, which individual’s reputation should be damaged,” he said.

The most conservative newspapers in the Islamic republic are very vocal in their criticism of Rowhani.

Since being elected in 2013, he has led a policy of openness culminating with the signing in July of a historic nuclear deal with great powers, including the United States.

“The government must be criticised, the judiciary must be criticised, the parliament must be criticised,” Rowhani said.

“But criticising does not mean... smearing, insulting or lying.”

On Monday, the ISNA news agency said Larijani had come out strongly against the president’s remarks.

“The president made several comments, notably that justice must be a refuge for society, and that if the salt becomes rotten, the task becomes difficult.

“One wonders what he means by that. Could the response be that if the government is rotten and if the president is corrupted that the task becomes difficult?” ISNA quoted Larijani as saying. “If the meaning is that justice is corrupt this is libellous, if not it is still an insult.”

The spat is the first time Rowhani and Larijani have faced off in public.