Hundreds of Prominent Iranians Denounce Arrest of Leading Reformist

Published July 2nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Nearly 300 Iranian political figures and academics have drafted an open letter denouncing the recent arrest of Ezzatollah Sahabi, a leader in Iran's progressive opposition, reported Iran News Agency (IRNA). 

"We ask for the unconditional release of Mr. Sahabi, a moderate-minded patriot and longstanding fighter and a high official in the provisional government at the start of the revolution," wrote the 276 signers of the letter, which will be published in the press, said the agency. 

Sahabi's arrest, the letter-writers said, "is an attempt to silence the voice of conscience." 

"Independent of the harm to the political and legal foundations of the state and without speaking of other actions of this nature against liberal figures, we condemn the arrest of Sahabi," said the signatories, who included liberal opposition leader Ibrahim Yazdi, said the agency. 

Sahabi was arrested and jailed last Monday as part of a state investigation into an academic conference in Berlin in April, which Iranian authorities have called "anti-Islamic." 

"As part of the inquiry into those taking part in the Berlin seminar, and given that confidential documents were discovered during recent investigations, Sahabi was summoned by the revolutionary court which placed him in provisional custody," an Iranian court said.  

Sahabi headed the planning and budget organization of the former provisional government in 1979, reported AFP.  

He is known for his secular and progressive thinking expressed in his monthly Iran-e-farda (Iran Tomorrow) publication, which was closed down in April.  

He is the son of Yadollah Sahabi, a former associate and minister of Mohammad Mossadeq, who was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup in 1953, AFP said. 

The arrest came just a day after a pro-reform Iranian student leader, Ali Afshari, imprisoned for nearly two months for attending the conference, was set free on 62,000 dollars bail, added AFP - (Several Sources) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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