Friday, August 19, 2005


Annan demands release of jailed Iranian journalist

Fri Aug 19, 2005 08:19 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday wrote Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demanding the release of imprisoned dissident journalist Akbar Ganji.
The letter marks the strongest action to date by the world body in pushing for Ganji to be freed. Such initiatives are always ticklish for the United Nations because Iran is a member-state.

While Annan's letter has not been made public because it has not yet been received by the Iranian authorities, it calls for "the immediate release on humanitarian grounds" of Ganji, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

The dissident this week ended more than 60 days of hunger strike in protest at his imprisonment.

He was jailed in 2000 and sentenced to six years in prison for "acting against national security" and other crimes. His arrest followed a series of articles linking senior officials to the murder of dozens of political dissidents.

Ganji's plight also has aroused concern at the White House and the European Union, which have similarly called for him to be released.

His supporters feared he would die from the long hunger strike but his condition was improving after he resumed eating, the spokesman of the Iranian hospital where he is being held was quoted as saying on Friday.

However, relatives and lawyers told Reuters in Tehran they were being prevented from visiting Ganji and could not confirm he had begun eating.

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