UPDATE 2035 GMT: Tonight the Iranian authorities have withdrawn the accreditation of the Reuters bureau in Tehran.
The 11 staff in the bureau have been told to hand back their press cards. Reuters said it is in discussions with Iranian officials to regain accreditation.
At the start of February, we noticed a Press TV report highlighting 3500 women in Iran who are officially registered to train in the martial art of Ninjutsu. We posted the video as well as a comment by Max Fisher of The Atlantic which, despite a somewhat patronising and two-dimensional presentation of gender issues in Iran, considered the story seriously as a case of "the self-empowerment of these women".
It was too much to expect this thoughtful approach to hold --- Women! Ninjas! Weapons! Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! --- and three days later, it was Britain's Daily Mail that caught our eye: ""Meet Iran's Female Ninja Assassins: 3,000 Women Training to Defend the Muslim state".
Reuters subsequently capitalised on the visual angle with a slideshow of "Ninjas in Iran". So did Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty with "Iranian Women Show Their Ninja Skills". (Neither, as far as we can tell, added the claim of "Muslim State Ninja Assassin Army".)
At that point, the story probably should have been left to retreat into ninja darkness. But sadly, the possibilities of political exploitation are too strong to be withstood. So Press TV, in its unrelenting defence of the Islamic Republic against evil Western media, now proclaims, "Iranian Ninjas sue Reuters for Defamation of Character"....