Saturday, January 08, 2005

Yahoo! News - Former Iranian reformist vice president risks court summons

EHRAN (AFP) - Former Iranian vice president and outspoken reformist Mohammad Ali Abtahi said he could be summoned to court after complaining over the abuse of journalists in his personal weblog.

"I read in the papers that the attorney general and the police have pressed charges against me in the clerics' court, although I have not yet been officially informed," Abtahi wrote Friday on his website.

The charges appeared to be related to "spreading lies", Abtahi wrote.

Abtahi quit the reformist government of embattled President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) in October, saying that working with hardliners -- who took control of parliament after most reformists were barred from contesting the February 2004 legislative elections -- had become impossible.

On his website, the mid-ranking cleric has openly complained about a fresh crackdown on the pro-reform press, and voiced alarm over how several journalists had written letters of confession after being arrested.

Abtahi quoted two of the arrested journalists as saying they had been threatened and beaten.

Last month the reformist government admitted that it was concerned over how the hardline judiciary managed to exact such written apologies and confessions and said Khatami had ordered an enquiry.

But the four journalists were then quoted in the national press as denying they were forced to repent while in jail, and denied they had been ill-treated.

How we take our first amendment protections for granted!

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