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Pollster, held over survey on Iran-US ties, bailed out: lawyer

Tehran, Jan 17, IRNA -- Behrouz Geranpayeh, who has been implicated in a controversial polling which claimed most Iranians favored ties with US, was freed on bail from detention Wednesday night, his lawyer was quoted as saying Thursday.

Ramezan Haj-Mashhadi said that the judge in the case, Saeed Mortazavi, also agreed to commute the bail to 1.3 billion rials from two billion rials (US$250,000).

Haj-Mashhadi, who is also the lawyer of another defendant in the polling case, Hossein-Ali Qazian, said that the court had intimated its readiness to release the suspect on bail.

"Jude Mortazavi has promised me to free Mr. Qazian on bail. But, we have to wait for a longer time," he was cited as saying.

Geranpayeh, the head of National Institute for Research and Opinion Polls, has already stood trial on charges of "publishing false and poisonous information" as well as "selling information to foreigners". His institute claimed in September that three-quarters of Iranians favored the resumption of ties with the US.

The defendant has acknowledged in the court that he had made mistakes in having contacts with foreigners and that the survey carried out under his management were not in the interests of the system.

Several others have been implicated in the case, including former student leader in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy here, Abbas Abdi, who is held in detention.

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 Ahmad Bourqani, Alireza Alavitabar and Mehdi Abbasi-Rad, an IRNA editor who has been charged with illegal publication of the survey in the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Abdi is also a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, whose arrest this year came on the 23rd anniversary of the embassy takeover.

Tehran and Washington have held no diplomatic ties since 1979 after the US severed its relations with the Islamic Republic after 'Students Following the Line of Imam' stormed the US embassy, known as the den of espionage, and took its staff hostage.

... Payvand News - 1/17/03 ... --

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