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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
TV confession by detained Iranian reformist

A pro-reform student leader in Iran, Ali Afshari, was shown on state television on Wednesday night confessing that he and other reformists plotted to overthrow the government.

The French news agency described Mr Afshari, who has been detained by the authorities since December, as having shadows under his eyes and looking pale and strained.

He said that the strategy was to try to overthrow the government by peaceful means through student protests.

Mr Afshari was sentenced to six years in prison in January for taking part in a conference in Berlin on reforms in Iran.

Mr Afshari's family say he is being held at an unknown location and is being subjected to inhuman conditions.

The BBC Eurasia analyst says the television confession is a new and sinister twist in the strategy by conservatives to discredit reformists in advance of next month's presidential elections.

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