CJFE Welcomes Reduction in Sentence of Imprisoned Journalist Akbar Ganji

Thursday, May 17, 2001
CJFE welcomes reduction in sentence of imprisoned journalist Akbar Ganji, but remains concerned about his continued detention Canadian Journalists for Free Expression today welcomed the news, reported by the official IRNA news agency, that journalist Akbar Ganji had been cleared of three convictions by a Tehran appeals court, reducing his prison sentence from ten years to six months. The court also overturned the further five years of internal exile that Ganji had been ordered to serve in addition to his prison sentence. According to IRNA, the convictions against him that have been quashed include harming national security and keeping classified documents. The court upheld a verdict of "insulting authorities". It is expected that Ganji will be freed soon. "We are pleased with the decision of the Tehran appeals court," CJFE Executive Director Sharmini Peries said. "Nevertheless, we remain concerned that he is still behind bars, and therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release." Ganji was arrested on 22 April 2000 following his participation in an academic and cultural conference that was held at the Heinrich Böll Institute in Berlin on 7 to 9 April and titled "Iran after the elections". He was sentenced on 13 January to ten years' imprisonment plus five years' internal exile for his attendance at the conference and for a series of articles he had written implicating leading Iranian political figures in the 1998 murders of several dissidents and intellectuals. In November 2000, Ganji was a recipient, in absentia, of CJFE's International Press Freedom Award. For further information, please contact CJFE, 489 College Street, Suite 403, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1A5, tel: 416-515-9622, fax: 416-515-7879, e-mail: cjfe@cjfe.org.

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