TEHRAN, Iran (AP) June 17 - The speaker of Iran's parliament blocked an investigation into state radio and television networks controlled by religious hard-liners on Sunday, dealing a blow to the country's reformers.
Speaker Mahdi Karrubi said the probe was ``contrary to parliament's internal bylaws'' banning investigations into institutions operating under the direct supervision of Iran's hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It was a defeat for reformists still euphoric over President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites)'s landslide re-election on June 8. Angry reformist lawmakers stormed out of the hall in protest.
``What's the use of this parliament?'' shouted lawmaker Elaheh Koolaeeo.
Though the 290-seat parliament is dominated by reformist politicians, Karrubi, a former conservative-turned-reformist, enjoys support from both factions.
Reformist lawmakers say Iran's constitution empowers the parliament to launch probes into all national matters. Lawmaker Ali Asghar Hadizadeh said the network has refused to provide lawmakers a clear account of its advertising revenues.
``How is it that the parliament approves the budget for the radio and television network but cannot ask questions about its spending?'' lawmaker Hassan Ramezanianpour said.
Ramezanianpour said in response to Karrubi's actions, a bill was proposed Sunday to ``ban the speaker from making such decisions.''
The hard-line Guardian Council on Saturday sent a letter to Karrubi affirming the radio and television network was under Khamenei's direct supervision, state radio said Sunday.
Hard-liners, who control unelected institutions such as the judiciary, military and police, have in the past year closed down some 40 publications, mostly pro-democracy newspapers, and jailed dissidents and liberal journalists.
Supporters of Khatami, many of them young people and women, want the government to grant greater social and political freedoms and overhaul the economy. The reformist president won re-election on June 8 with 77 percent of the vote.