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Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Iran arrests another journalist
Latif Safari
Latif Safari arrives at the press court in Tehran
By Tehran correspondent Jim Muir

Another prominent Iranian reformist journalist has been imprisoned for publishing articles deemed offensive to Islam.

Latif Safari, publisher of the banned newspaper Neshat, was taken to prison after the press court in Tehran confirmed a two-and-a-half year sentence against him.

The jailing is the latest in a series of moves against the liberal press.

Mr Safari had first been sentenced to jail late last year, following his conviction on charges of offending the principles of Islam.

One of the main offences of his newspaper was that it had printed an article questioning capital punishment and thus challenging the Islamic principle of retribution.

Failed appeals

Mr Safari had been at liberty while appeals were being heard.

But when he appeared before the special press court, he was told that his appeal had been turned down.

The judge ordered his immediate arrest and removal to the main prison in north Tehran.


Mohammad Reza Khatami
Reformist politician Mohammad Reza Khatami wants changed laws
Mr Safari joins in jail one of his close colleagues, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin.

Mr Shamsolvaezin was senior editor on the same newspaper and was also jailed earlier this month, after having a similar two-and-a-half year sentence confirmed.

Nor will they be alone.

On Saturday, another liberal journalist, Akbar Ganji, was also arrested after appearing at the press court to face a variety of complaints brought by right-wing institutions.

Mr Ganji is best known for his fearless exposes of sinister events behind a series of killings of liberal writers and intellectuals in 1998.

Campaign

Many other reformist figures have either been imprisoned already, or face actions in the courts which are generally seen as operating in favour of the conservatives.

The reformists, who won a sweeping victory in a general election in February, plan to change the way the laws work when the new parliament sits at the end of May.

But in the meantime, they are convinced they are on the receiving end of a right-wing campaign to silence as many of them as possible.

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See also:

22 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iranian reformist journalist arrested
20 Apr 00 | Middle East
Court summons for Iranian reformists
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Iran's unique election
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Can the reformists hold together?
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Analysis: Obstacles to change
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