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Iranian jury finds Reuters guilty of lies in 'ninjas' report

From the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sun September 30, 2012
A Reuters video showed women clad head to toe in black, running up walls, flipping backwards, diving and rolling over swords.
A Reuters video showed women clad head to toe in black, running up walls, flipping backwards, diving and rolling over swords.
  • Reuters admitted in February a video story erred in calling women assassins in training
  • The story involved thousands of women practicing to be ninjas
  • A jury found the news agency's bureau chief guilty
  • Judge will rule on guilt or innocence in October

(CNN) -- The jury of Iran's Press Court on Sunday found the Tehran bureau chief for Reuters guilty of publishing lies and negatively influencing public opinion.

Press TV, a state media agency, reported a jury member said Reuters was "found guilty of propagating against the Islamic Republic and disseminating false information to disturb public opinion."

Parisa Hafezi is Reuters' bureau chief in Tehran. She referred CNN to Thompson Reuters, based in London, for a statement.

In a story about the verdict on its website, Reuters said, "We understand that the jury has stated its view and we now await the court's ruling. We do not intend to comment further until a decision is issued."

Press TV said a judge will make his final ruling in October, and the news agency can appeal the decision.

The controversy stems from a Reuters video showing women clad head to toe in black, running up walls and flipping backwards, and diving and rolling over swords held at waist heights.

A Culture Ministry official accused Reuters of calling the martial arts students terrorists, when in fact they are "university students and housewives" who "engaged in this sport because of their love for the sport."

Reuters acknowledged the video report in February "contained an error" and said the headline was changed after a complaint.

The story's headline, "Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran's assassins," was corrected to read "Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran," Reuters said in a statement.

Reuters also apologized for the error, the news agency said.

According to Fars, a semiofficial Iranian news agency, the lawsuit was filed by "Iranian Women Ninjas."

Eleven Reuters staff members in Tehran were told to hand in their press cards over the incident, Reuters said in April.

"We acknowledge this error occurred and regard it as a very serious matter," editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler said, adding that officials at the company "conducted an internal review and have taken appropriate steps to prevent a recurrence."

The press court was created in February 2011. An Iranian official said it was necessary because of developments in mass media and "special media crimes."

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.

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