Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 13:10 UK

Iran 'sentences Newsweek man in absentia to 13 years'

Maziar Bahari, Newsweek reporter
Mr Bahari said Iran was trying to scare opposition activists

A reporter for the US magazine Newsweek says he has been sentenced in absentia to 13 years in jail in Iran, after covering opposition protests.

Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari was jailed in Iran for four months last year, but later freed on bail and allowed to leave the country.

Mr Bahari said he had been sentenced to 13 years and six months in jail, plus 74 lashes.

He was arrested after reporting on protests over disputed elections.

Iran has not commented on the sentencing.

The Iranian regime wanted to "scare as many people as possible" to prevent them from taking to the streets to mark the anniversary of the June poll, Mr Bahiri said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Bloody protests

Scores of protesters died in clashes with security forces during protests in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election on 12 June 2009.

Reformists claimed the election had been rigged, a charge the government denied.

Mr Bahari said the Revolutionary Court that sentenced him had not informed him formally, but he had heard the news from a relative present at the court.

The charges included unlawful assembly and conspiring against the state, collection secret documents, one year for propagandising against the system, insulting the Supreme Leader and the president, and disrupting public order, Mr Bahari wrote in Newsweek.

He said more than 30 journalists, writers and bloggers were still being held in Iranian prisons.

Five Iranian activists were hung over the weekend.

Mr Bahari, 42, is a reporter and documentary maker who had been accredited to work in Iran for more than a decade.

He was released in October on bail of 3 billion rials ($300,000) and allowed to travel to London, where his wife was due to give birth.

Another critic being held by the Iranians is film-maker Jafar Panahi.

He was due to be a judge at this year's Cannes Film festival.

At least 30 protesters have been killed in clashes since last year's disputed elections, although the opposition says more than 70 have died. Thousands have been detained and some 200 activists remain behind bars.

At least nine have been sentenced to death, and two have been executed already

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