Iran jury finds Reuters guilty over ninja report

Iranian seminary students hold posters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a demonstration of clerics to protest the film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN: An Iranian jury on Sunday found the international news agency Reuters guilty of the crime of "propaganda against the regime" for a report early this year mischaracterising female ninja students as assassins, media said.

Reuters was also found guilty of "publishing false information in an effort to disturb public opinion" over the ninja report that was published in February, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said, quoting the Tehran prosecutor's office.

The judge of the Tehran court was now expected to confirm the verdict and deliver a sentence in coming weeks, the Iranian channel Press TV reported, though no date was given.

Reuters, which can appeal the conviction, declined to comment to AFP about the jury's decision.

The news agency, part of the New York-based Thomson Reuters group since 2008, was represented in court by its Tehran bureau chief, Parisa Hafezi, who has been prevented from leaving the country pending the court case.

Iranian authorities confiscated the press credentials of all staff in the Reuters bureau in March, and suspended its operations.

The case stems from a report Reuters did on a group of female ninjas training in the sport in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran. The original headline on the story erroneously read "Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran’s assassins".

Reuters subsequently changed the headline to read "Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran". It later removed the report.

Reuters' global editor in chief, Stephen Adler, told The New York Times newspaper on March 29 that the headline mistake was not malicious, and added: "I don't see factual errors in the story."

Iranian authorities routinely monitor and restrict the activities of foreign journalists.





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