Iran frees prominent journalist from jail
Imprisoned Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji is on compassionate leave, said deputy prosecutor for prisons' affairs on Saturday. Mahmoud Salarkia told IRNA the inmate's leave started Friday night. He said Ganji was granted the leave to be with his family on the eve of Iranian New Year (starting March 21).
Ganji, who worked for the daily newspaper Sobh-e-Emrooz, was arrested on 22 April 2000 after appearing before the press court accused of writing that leading figures, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, had been involved in the murder of opponents and intellectuals in late 1998. He was also accused of taking part in a conference in Berlin about reform in Iran which the government charged was "anti-Islamic."
He was sentenced on 13 January 2001 to 10 years in prison but the appeal court reduced this to six months on 15 May 2001. However, on 15 July 2001, the supreme court quashed the May sentence on technical grounds and imposed a six-year jail sentence.