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Prominent Iranian journalist 'jailed for 16 months'

Barred: Scores of journalists close to the opposition have been arrested, with many sentenced to heavy jail terms.

Iran has sentenced a prominent reformist journalist to 16 months in jail on charges of insulting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and undermining the Islamic regime, he told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Sunday. Mashallah Shamsolvaezin heads the Journalists' Association of Iran and was the editor of several reformist dailies closed in a crackdown on the press between 1998 and 2000.

"I was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of undermining the establishment for giving interviews to foreign TV networks and news agencies," Shamsolvaezin said. "I was also given a four-month sentence for calling Ahmadinejad a megalomaniac in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV which the prosecutors misinterpreted as crazy and so insulting the president," he said.

One of the accusations mentioned in the verdict was "defending" in an analysis Nazak Afshar, an employee of the French embassy in Tehran who was jailed in the aftermath of Iran's post-election unrest in 2009, he added.

Shamsolvaezin went on trial in October and has 20 days to appeal. He was detained for over two months last year as Iran cracked down on government critics after mass protests broke out against Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June 2009. Scores of journalists close to the opposition as well as reformist politicians, students and human rights activists have been arrested and many have since been sentenced to heavy jail terms.

The authorities meanwhile have targeted Iran's flagship reformist newspaper Shargh in recent days, arresting its financial sponsor, three editors and a writer over "security-related crimes," Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told ISNA news agency. Another Shargh journalist, Rayhaneh Tabatabai "was arrested at home this morning," opposition website Kaleme.com said Sunday. Shargh has survived several closures since Ahmadinejad became president in 2005.

Date posted: December 13, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 161