Exclusive Interview with Iranian Adviser

Rohani: The kind of freedom you see in Iran, you cannot see it in many countries. We have a free parliament, and its representatives are elected by the people. And all the discussions in parliament are broadcast on the radio. The people of Iran, since the revolution, have free elections every year. In our country, the number of newspapers and magazines is 10 times greater than before the revolution. And as you know, the number of newspapers and magazines is increasing. People are completely free to express their thoughts. Of course, there are laws and rules in every country. There is a court, and if anyone disobeys the law, then it is the law that deals with that person. What is important is that the courts act within the framework of the law. It is possible that some newspapers or magazine publishers go against the law, and it would be dealt with, but that does not mean that there is no freedom or democracy in this country. If we don't abide by the law, it would be a shambles. We have to distinguish between freedom and shambles.

Wallace: It's a shamble to have someone who criticizes the government? It's a shamble to have someone who opposes the government in a peaceful way, that's a shambles?

Rohani: Read these newspapers and see with what freedom they express their opinions. Officials are being criticized; government is being criticized. Some groups are against it; some groups are for it.

Wallace: But I read today in the paper that two more newspapers have been shut down.

Rohani: But one of them has reopened. There is only one closed. Of course, we have laws for our publications. And of course, even with the one publication that was shut down, it is a temporary shutdown. That means the newspaper is closed by a judge until a trial. And as you know, there is a jury, and the jury will decide. Therefore it is possible a newspaper acts against the law. Every newspaper has to act according to the law. Even in your country, anyone who breaks the law must face justice. What is important is that the judge and the court deals with the lawbreaker. The lawbreaker has a right to get a lawyer, to defend himself. That's what matters. And as you know, the trial for a newspaper has to be done in a court, with a jury, and it has to be done with a defense lawyer. And finally, the judge decides. Therefore, this process is completely in the framework of a democratic regime such as Iran.

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