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Judicial CP - May 2003

Khaleej Times, Dubai, UAE, 1 May 2003

Jail term on Iranian scribe flayed

From Paul Michaud
(Special to Khaleej Times)


PARIS - Reporters Sans Frontières, the Paris-based international journalists' rights organisation, says that an Iranian journalist has been sentenced to four years in jail and 253 lashes.

RSF says that it "strongly deplores the new attacks on journalists by the Iranian authorities.

"These new moves by the hardliners cannot be tolerated," says RSF Secretary-General, Robert Menard.

Alireza Jabari, a translator and freelance contributor to several independent newspapers, including Adineh, was sentenced on April 19 to four years in prison, 253 lashes and a fine of six million rials (1,000 euros) for 'consuming and distributing alcoholic drinks' and for 'adultery and incitement to immoral acts'.

Jabari's lawyer said he was arrested illegally and that he himself had not been allowed to attend Jabari's trial. He was arrested at his office in Teheran last December 28 and freed on February 6 this year. He was arrested again on March 17.

An interview with him had appeared on December 25 in a Persian-language newspaper in Canada, Charvand, in which he said the country's hardline spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wanted the crisis in Iran to get worse.

His latest arrest came soon after he told the Press about his conditions of detention and the pressure exerted on him to make confessions.

Journalists Hossein Ghazian (arrested last October) and Abbas Abdi (arrested in November) are being tried in secret and without their lawyers present for "possessing secret documents belong to the intelligence ministry."

Early this month they were each sentenced on appeal to four years and six months in prison - four years for "passing information to enemy countries," and six months for "making propaganda against the Islamic regime."

Ghazian, a director of the Ayandeh public opinion firm and a journalist on the daily paper Nowrooz, and Abdi, another Ayandeh director, ex-editor of the daily Salam who has worked on many reformist papers, were accused of "receiving money from the US polling firm Gallup or from a foreign embassy."

They were arrested after the official news agency Irna, published last September 22 an Ayandeh poll that showed 74.4 per cent of Iranians favoured a resumption of ties with the United States.


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