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Court sentences Iran-US pollsters Abdi, Qazian to jail terms

Tehran, Feb 2, IRNA -- The court investigating a controversial opinion poll on Iran-US relations has sentenced two pollsters held in connection with the case Abbas Abdi and Hossein-Ali Qazian to jail terms, the press reported here on Sunday.

The Persian-language `Seday-e Edalat' (The Voice of Justice) reported that Abdi has been sentenced to seven years and Qazian to eight years behind the bars.

Qazian and Abdi, both working at the Ayandeh Polling and Research Institute, were apprehended last year following an opinion poll they had directed which claimed that two-thirds of citizens in Tehran favored resumption of talks with the US.

The Seday-e Edalat wrote that the court had found the defendants guilty in the first, second and fourth clauses of the prosecutor's indictment.

It added that to study the third clause of the indictment on charges of collecting and keeping confidential documents, the court is still waiting for concerned institutions to forward their reports and responses in that connection.

The institutions, the daily wrote, include the Ministry of Information, the Presidential Office, the State Security Department, the Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council.

The Seday-e Edalat further quoted reports that Behrouz Geranpayeh, the head of the National Institute for Research and Opinion Polls, who has been recently released on bail after several hearings in connection with the polling, will soon go on a Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Geranpayeh has been charged with "publishing false and poisonous information" as well as "selling information to foreigners". No ruling has yet been issued against him.

The court has accused the defendants of carrying out the research on the order of the Washington-based Gallup Organization.

Other defendants in the case are a deputy from Tehran Ahmad Bourqani, Alireza Alavitabar and Mehdi Abbasi-Rad, an IRNA editor who has been charged with illegal publication of the survey by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Abdi, who was a student leader in the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, is a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF).

... Payvand News - 2/2/03 ... --

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