Saghi Baghernia, the owner of the newspaper Asia, said on Monday: "This morning we were told by Ershad (Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry) that the paper is temporarily banned."

 

Baghernia said the authorities did not give her a reason.

 

"We were given no prior notice for this harsh measure" and the duration of the ban was unspecified, she said.

 

Her husband, Iraj Jamshidi, who is managing director of the daily, told the Iranian Student News Agency: "We got news from Ershad that we have been temporarily suspended."

 

During the term of Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami, hundreds of print media outlets were shut and scores of journalists imprisoned by Iran's judiciary as part of a crackdown.

 

The Asia daily was itself closed by the government from June 2003 to March 2005 after publishing a photo of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the armed opposition People's Mudjahedin, which is outlawed in Iran as a terrorist organisation.

 

Jamshidi was imprisoned for 13 months at the time.