Islamic Republic of Iran has revoked the press accreditation of The New York Times’ Tehran based correspondent without explanation, the newspaper reported today.
Thomas Erdbrink, a Netherlands national, has be covering Iran for The Times since 2012. He resides in Tehran but has been perform his duties since late February, when his press credential was revoked. The Times said that it decided to go public with Erdbrink’s situation “after recent speculation and comments on social media.”
While the newspaper remained optimistic that Erdbrink will soon be permitted to resume work , the revocation comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran precipitated by the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers a year ago. Under the 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
“Officials of Iran’s Foreign Ministry have repeatedly assured The Times that Mr. Erdbrink’s credential would soon be restored but have offered no explanation for the delays or for why it was revoked,” the Times reported , quoting international editor Michael Slackman.
“He added that there are some indications this will be resolved soon.” Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no immediate response in Iranian state-run media. Erdbrink, a Dutch national, previously worked as a correspondent for The Washington Post as well.
The Times noted that Erdbrink’s wife, Newsha Tavakolian, an Iranian citizen and award-winning photographer represented by the Magnum photo agency, also has been denied permission to work, The Times said. She has shot for The Times and other news organizations since 2001.
While local journalists face the brunt of Iranian regime, foreign journalists in Tehran, especially those with Western ties, have been imprisoned as well. The last major case involved Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian of the Washington Post. Rezaian was convicted of espionage in a closed-door trial in Iran in 2015. He was had indicted him on four charges, including espionage and "propaganda against the establishment.
A 2016 prisoner swap negotiated between Iran and the U.S. amid the start of the nuclear deal freed Rezaian and three other Iranian-Americans in exchange for pardons or charges being dropped against seven Iranians. That deal also saw the U.S. make a $400 million cash delivery to Iran.
After unilaterally scrapping the nuclear deal, Trump administration has initiated several punitive sanctions against Iran. It has curtailed the country's oil exports to near zero, sending its economy into tailspin
In April this year, the Trump administration on Monday announced that it had designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s powerful security and military organization that is tasked with duty to protect Islamic regime, as a “foreign terrorist organization.” The Revolutionary Guard (pasdaran) is intended to protect the country's Islamic Republic system.
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