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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 August 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Annan urges Iran to free reporter
Akbar Ganji. File photo
Akbar Ganji is demanding his unconditional release
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on Iran to free imprisoned dissident journalist Akbar Ganji.

In a letter to Iran's president, Mr Annan demanded Ganji's immediate release "on humanitarian grounds".

Ganji was jailed in 2000 for a series of reports linking Iranian officials to the murders of dissidents.

He began a hunger strike in June, demanding to be freed. Tehran says he resumed eating this week, but his wife says she cannot confirm that.

Ganji's action has made him a rallying point for pro-reformists, students and human rights activists, reports the BBC's Pam O'Toole in Tehran.

Mr Annan's letter to the newly-elected Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, urges the journalist's "immediate release", a UN official was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Annan has previously expressed concern about Ganji's situation, but the letter is the strongest action by the world body so far, our correspondent reports.

The US and the European Union have also called for the release of the prominent investigative journalist.

Condition unknown

There has been much uncertainty about Ganji's condition, who was jailed for "acting against national security" and other crimes.

He is said to have lost 30kg (66lb) since he started his hunger strike. Some reports have suggested he was in intensive care.

However, Tehran's deputy prosecutor said earlier this week that Mr Ganji had ended his hunger strike and announced his readiness to co-operate with his doctors.

Ganji's wife told the BBC she was unable to confirm or deny reports about her husband's condition.

She said she had not been allowed to see him for 19 days and was trying to get permission to do so.


SEE ALSO:
Iran rally to save fasting writer
11 Aug 05 |  Middle East
Iranian dissident's home raided
08 Aug 05 |  Middle East
Nobel winners back Ganji petition
05 Aug 05 |  Middle East
Rafsanjani wants dissident freed
30 Jul 05 |  Middle East
Iran dissident 'cannot see wife'
29 Jul 05 |  Middle East
Raid on Iran dissident's lawyer
28 Jul 05 |  Middle East
Profile: Akbar Ganji
26 Jul 05 |  Middle East
Iran hunger striker 'in hospital'
18 Jul 05 |  Middle East
Iran MPs plan jailed writer visit
13 Jul 05 |  Middle East


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