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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 14:57 GMT
Iranian satirist recants in court
Trial of participants in last April's Berlin conference on the Iranian elections
Many of Iran's reformists have fallen foul of the law
By Jim Muir in Tehran

One of Iran's best-known satirical writers has pleaded guilty to charges of insulting officials and propagating untruths.

My extremism was irresponsible and in principle all extremism is wrong and irresponsible

Ebrahim Nabavi
Ebrahim Nabavi had been a regular columnist in many of the reformist newspapers which have been closed down in recent months.

He apologised to those who felt offended by his work.

Ebrahim Nabavi is one of a number of prominent journalists and commentators who have been arrested as part of a clampdown since the spring.

Iranian reformist journalist Ebrahim Nabavi
Mr Nabavi has apologised to those he offended
During the period when they flourished, Mr Nabavi was one of the most read and most remarked upon columnists.

His satirical writings, poking fun at officials, won him a strong following of amused supporters.

But he was arrested in mid-August, swelling the ranks of prominent journalists and writers now in Iranian jails. Now he has publicly recanted.


He accepted all the charges against him except for one complaint brought by the police relating to his comments on an attack on a student dormitory last year which triggered several days of street riots.

Apologising to those he had offended, Mr Nabavi said he had allowed himself to become angry and affected by public opinion and the extremism of some of his friends.

He rejected any suggestion that his confession was the result of ill-treatment or threats.

He said he had not been subjected to any form of physical or psychological pressure.


Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji did not submit quietly
Being in prison, he said, had given him a chance to rethink his past and re-evaluate his writings.

He asked the judge to exercise compassion in reaching his verdict.

Mr Nabavi's confession stands in strong contrast to the position taken last week in a Teheran revolutionary court by another leading journalist, Akbar Ganji.

He said he had been maltreated in prison and he displayed a defiance that seems likely to attract a much harsher sentence than Mr Nabavi can now expect.

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See also:

09 Nov 00 | Middle East
Uproar as Iran judge accused
19 Aug 00 | Middle East
New Iran newspaper ban
05 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iranian reformer arrested
13 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iranian MPs pledge to continue reform
08 Aug 00 | Media reports
Iranian press back Ayatollah's intervention
24 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iran's liberal press muzzled
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