Iran's revolutionary authorities today ordered the expulsions of five Western correspondants, stepping up an apparent campaign to stifle foreign press coverage of mounting disorders in the Islamic republic of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The expulsion orders came as the government made preparations to drive Iran's rebellious Kurds from their main stronghold in the western part of the country following the executions by Islamic revolutionary courts of 14 Kurds accused of taking part in an uprising in the region last week.
Informed sources in Tehran said there were indications that other foreign correspondents may soon be expelled, further limiting the flow of news from Iran. So far the government has ordered 12 American and European reporters out of the country and has been preventing others from entering.
Among the reporters ordered expelled today were two Britons, Andrew Whitley of the Financial Times and Towyn Mason of the British Broadcasting Corp. Both were resident correspondents. They were originally given 48 hours to close their bureaus and leave the country, but the deadline was later extended to a week.
The government also ordered three visiting European newsmen to leave.
In a separate development in Tehran, Revolutionary Guards forcibly closed the offices of the Iranian Communist Party as part of an intensifying crackdown on political opposition.
In Kurdistan, revolutionary courts said the 14 executed Kurds were members of the outlawed Kurdistan Democratic Party. The sentences appeared to signal the start of a major effort to stamp out resistance from the autonomy-seeking Kurdish party.
Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, a Moslem clergyman who has earned the nickname "Judge Blood" for his frequent death sentences, sent nine Kurds to firing squads in the western Iranian border town of Paveh, where fighting broke out between Kurds and Revolutionary Guards last week.
Five Kurds were executed Monday night in the nearby city of Kermanshah on the same charges of "corruption on earth" and "waging war against God" for their part in the Paveh rebellion.
The executions brought to 25 the number of Kurds sent before firing squads since the uprising was crushed Sunday. All of them have been accused of involvement with the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
The government seemed to be moving to drive the party out of its last bastion in the Kurdish town of Mahabad, where the spiritual leader of the Kurds. Sheik Ezzedin Hosseini, and the party's secretary general, Abdurahman Qassemlu, reside. Both have been declared "corrupt" by Iran's de facto chief of state, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had demanded their arrest.
Premier Mehdi Bazargan and Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hossein Shaker visited Khomeini in the holy city of Qom Monday night to discuss the Kurdish situation and work out plans for the armed forces' crackdown.
Bazargan told the state radio after his talks with the ayatollah that a column of tanks was being dispatched toward Mahabad to reactivate the military garrison in the town.
Reports from the region said the Kurdistan provincial capital of Sanandaj was surrounded by military forces and a security net was begin closed around Mahabad.
However, the Kurds seemed to be preparing to resist an eventual attack on Mahabad, which became the capital of a short-lived independent Kurdish state after the World War II.
Reports from the town said groups of Kurds had been flocking there to express their solidarity with Sheik Hosseini and Qassemlu and that there were plans to hold a huge demonstration in their support.
Indicative of the government's sensitivity about growing Kurdish unrest was an order for the expulsion of two West German television newsmen believed to have been arrested while filming in Kurdistan.
The fifth correspondent ordered expelled was a Frenchman, Jerome Demoulin, reporting for the Paris news magazine, L'Express. A British assistant to the Financial Times correspondent was also asked to leave the country but at her own convenience.
The expulsion orders were served by the director general for foreign press at the Ministry of National Guidance, Ali Behzadnia, who said the moves followed Ayatollah Khomeini's command to the government to act in a more revolutionary manner.
Behzadnia also said the expulsions were being ordered in the interests of the correspondents' safety because, he said, popular feelings were running very high against the foreign press, and the government could not guarantee the security of journalists' bureaus or their personal safety.
Informed sources said the order had been issued by a guidance committee within the ministry headed by a radical Moslem clergyman and set up to control the foreign press.
The sources said the committee has a list of eight to 20 more correspondents who are to be expelled, a move that would likely spell the end of permission for foreign journalists to work in Iran.
Two American correspondents, David Lamb of the Los Angeles Times and Youssef Ibrahim of the New York Times, were expelled last month. A four-man NBC television crew was also asked to leave a day after arriving in the country.
Whitley has been in Tehran for two years and was the resident correspondent for both the Financial Times and the BBC until this year, when he began working full-time for the Financial Times.
His expulsion is ironic because his reporting during the revolution against the shah was praised by some of the opposition leaders who now rule Iran.
The BBC was the only source of news to the Iranian public during a two-month newspaper strike over censorship by the shah's government last November and December.
In the Tehran bazaar, notices were put up at that time informing people how to get in touch with Andrew Whitley of the BBC to give him news of any incidents they witnessed. The notices were posted by some of the authorities who are now in power.
The BBC also played a major role informing Iranians about the statements of Ayatollah Khomeini while he was in exile in Paris.
Meanwhile, Iran's communist Tudeh Party, which was reactivated after the February revolution, was closed today by revolutionary authorities in a move almost certain to drive the party underground again.
Revolutionary Guards sealed the headquarters of the party, but there was no news on the fate of its leaders, most of whom came back to Iran from exile after the revolution.
The revolutionary government never formally lifted a ban on the party, which was outlawed by the shah in the 1950s. But it had carried out its activities openly since returning to the piranian political fold in February, expressing strong support for Khomeini's leadership.
Observers said this was likely to change now that all non-Islamic political groups being banned.
They also said the move could lead to a marked deterioration in the Soviet Union's relations with Iran. The Kremlin has always maintained close links with the Tudeh. Party and up to now has followed a similar conciliatory line towards the Khomeini government.