IranWire, a forum for Iran’s independent journalists, has an English-language site and this week has an interview with my friend and colleague Odette Magnet, who describes the barrage of threats, harassment and intimidation she and her colleagues faced while working at Hoy magazine, one of the few media outlets which dared to report on human rights cases during the Pinochet dictatorship. An excerpt:
“We were forced to send the whole magazine (including the adverts!) to DINACOS, a government bureau whose only purpose was censorship. They had 48 hours to go through all the material and highlight in red ink what was not allowed (they gave no reason). And then we had to send someone over to DINACOS to pick up the material, read what was banned and send a second “lighter” version. Human rights stories were a real threat, a Molotov cocktail! We learned to write between the lines and the readers learned to read the same way. But it wasn’t only human rights stories that were dangerous. So were articles on the economy, political issues, international affairs and anything that smelled like it could be “a threat to homeland security,” “antipatriotic” or about “terrorists and communists.”
To read more:
DINACOS was also the government entity where foreign journalists, including this blogger, had to apply for press credentials in order to work in Chile. As is always the case, foreign journalists were in less danger than Chilean journalists, but there was always the chance you might get called in for a little talk if one of your stories offended the regime, with the implied threat of deportation. In some cases there was no warning at all–another colleague who worked at one of the news agencies was visited at his office by plainclothes detectives claiming they had found his passport. When he told them he in fact had his passport with him, they asked him to come with them to help investigate this apparent forgery. My friend was taken to the airport and put on a flight to Peru, without explanation.