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Iranian dissident cleric Eshkevari released after 4 years in jail

Tehran, Feb 6, IRNA -- Dissident cleric Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari was released Sunday after serving about two-thirds of his seven-year jail term for a series of charges, one of his relatives told IRNA.

He had been jailed for spreading lies, insulting Islamic sanctities as well as participating at a controversial conference in Berlin, denounced here as aiming to topple the Islamic Republic.

An appeals court in Tehran once quashed his death sentence, handed down by the Special Court for the Clergy, on apostasy charges.

The mid-ranking cleric was arrested on August 5, 2000 upon his return from the Berlin conference on 'changes in Iran', sponsored by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, which is linked to Germany's Greens party.

At another point, Eshkevari's health deteriorated at prison and doctors said chronic diabetes and mental breakdown were to blame.

The political conference in Berlin was attended by 15 reformist activists and two translators. They were all summoned to the revolutionary court and faced trials, with the exception of Eshkevari, whose case was referred to the special clergy court as he is a cleric.

Among them were investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, who is still in prison, and student leader Ali Afshari who was released from jail after writing a repentance letter.

The Berlin meeting was frequently interrupted by banned Iranian opposition groups. Television pictures showed one man taking his clothes off and a woman dancing.

The meeting was branded as a threat to the national security and the participants were upbraided for having 'disgraced' the country in front of 'counter-revolutionaries'.

Six defendants who attended the conference were acquitted.


... Payvand News - 2/6/05 ... --

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