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Iran
Akbar Ganji
In prison since 22 April 2000

The Iranian supreme court ruled on 22 avril 2000 that Akbar Ganji should serve a sentence of six years in prison for "attacking state security," for "insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic and the regime’s sacred values" and for "propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

A writer for the pro-reform dailies Sobhe-e-Emrouz, Neshat and Asr-e-Azadegan and editor of the weekly Rah-e-No, Ganji was convicted for reporting that leading regime officials, 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 criticised for taking part in a April 2000 conference in Berlin on "Iran after the elections" that was deemed "anti-Islamic" and "anti-revolutionary."

He was additionally alleged to have used classified Ministry of Islamic Guidance documents and to have written articles in support of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri - the onetime successor to the Islamic regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeiny - who was put under house arrest after Khomeiny died.

Ganji has been held for four years in Evin prison in northern Tehran, where he has sometimes had to share a cell with non-political prisoners. Aged 47 and an acute asthma sufferer, he has lost 22 kilos since he began a hunger strike on 11 June to demand his unconditional release. He was taken to Milad hospital on 24 July . He stopped his hunger strike after more than 60 days and has not been allowed to receive a visit from his lawyers although Iranian law provides for this. His wife, who was forbidden of visiting him since August 1 has finally received authorisation on August 21.

Calls for his release have been made by US President George Bush, the European Union and many international human rights organisations.