Iran has arrested a group of journalists on security charges, a minister said Monday, confirming reports that 11 reporters close to reformists were detained for their links to foreign Persian press.
"We are investigating the detention of the journalists and why they are detained," Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
"It seems they were arrested on security charges ... and not due to violation of media regulations," added Hosseini whose ministry issues accreditation for journalists and oversees their work.
Iranian media said the office of Tehran's prosecutor was to issue a statement on the arrests.
Earlier Monday, Iran's Fars news agency reported that "the journalists close to anti-revolutionary movement" were arrested Sunday night on a "warrant issued by the judiciary."
In a separate report the Mehr news agency, without giving a source, reported that the journalists were rounded up from their work places on charges of "cooperation with Persian-language anti-revolutionary media."
Neither agencies elaborated, but in Iran charges of anti-revolutionary activities usually suggest cooperation with overseas bodies.
The detainees work for various reformist outlets such as Shargh, Arman, Bahar and Etemad newspapers, the Aseman weekly, as well as the ILNA news agency, which focuses on social and labour issues, according to Mehr.
Fars identified the arrested journalists as Sasan Aghaei, Pouria Alami, Emily Amraei, Javad Daliri, Milad Fadaei, Narges Jodaki, Soleiman Mohammadi, Akbar Montajabi, Pejman Mousavi, Motahareh Shafiey and Nasrin Takhayori.
Tehran deems as hostile the Persian services of various international media, including the BBC Persian, the Voice of America and Radio Farda -- a US-funded Prague-based Persian radio.
The Islamic republic's press watchdog has banned several publications, mostly reformist journals, for breaching its strict regulations since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed 2009 re-election.
The arrests come as Iran gears up for a new round of presidential elections on June 14, after the result of the previous vote triggered protests in Tehran and other cities, sparking a bloody crackdown by the regime on demonstrators.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 45 journalists were in Iranian prisons at the start of December 2012.