DATE=4/24/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN / CRACKDOWN (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-261657 BYLINE=LISA BRYANT DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The Iranian government has suspended 12 reformist publications in its crackdown against the media. Lisa Bryant reports the closures follow the detentions of two prominent Iranian journalists in the past few days. TEXT: Iran's press court defended the closures Monday, saying that so-called enemy elements within the publications were attacking the values of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. The court says -- in a statement published by Iran's official news agency -- that the 12 journals were suspended for an indefinite period of time. /// OPT /// The banned publications include eight major daily newspapers, along with weekly and monthly news journals. /// END OPT /// Many Iranians found out about the closings when they tried -- and failed -- to buy the newspapers Monday. Only one of the suspended papers -- the daily Azad -- was on sale, because it reportedly had gone to print before the ban. The editor told local reporters the paper would not be printed the following day. Despite the news ban, the streets of Tehran were quiet. Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and the reformist newspapers have both appealed for calm. But analysts say the suspensions are another sign of a fierce power struggle between Iran's hard-line conservatives and advocates of political reform. Conservatives partly blame the reformist media for their widespread defeat in February's parliamentary elections. Last week, the outgoing parliament issued tough new legislation against the press. And in two recent speeches, Iran's religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, harshly criticized what he called un-Islamic elements in the Iranian media and warned of an imminent crackdown. On Sunday, the head of the banned Neshat daily newspaper was taken to jail, after the press court rejected his appeal against a two-and-one-half year prison sentence. The day before, another journalist, Akbar Ganji, was arrested in court, when he appeared to answer charges his newspaper had violated Iran's press laws. Mr. Ganji has written extensively about the 1998 killings of five pro-reform dissidents. He has suggested that government officials ordered their deaths. /// OPT /// Other journalists have been criticized for attending a conference in Germany recently. Conservatives called the meeting in Berlin an insult to Islamic values, and ordered several of the reporters to appear before Iran's Revolutionary Court. /// END OPT /// Earlier this year, yet another journalist, Saeed Hajjarian, was shot and seriously injured. Some reformists in Iran suspect that government hard-liners are behind the shooting. But conservatives have strongly rebutted those accusations. (Signed) NEB/LB/JWH/JO 24-Apr-2000 11:57 AM EDT (24-Apr-2000 1557 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .