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Abdi acquitted of slander

Sunday, August 22, 1999

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A prominent Iranian journalist was acquitted Sunday of slander charges, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Abbas Abdi, who had been accused of insulting hard-liners opposed to talks with the United States, was acquitted by a court in the holy city of Qom, 50 miles southwest of Tehran, the agency reported.

The report, monitored in Dubai, said the plaintiffs had 20 days to contest the verdict.

Abdi, a 43-year-old editor of the banned Salam newspaper, appeared before the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Qom four times to answer charges of insulting theology scholars and others in a mosque earlier this year.

Abdi was speaking at a gathering marking the 20th anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution when hard-liners criticized him for his calls for better ties with the United States. They chanted ``Death to America'' during his speech.

``Those bums who chant anti-American slogans always disrupt speeches,'' Abdi responded. He was then assaulted, but not seriously injured.

Hard-liners in the Iranian government view the United States as their enemy. Moderates, allied with President Mohammad Khatami, back his call for dialogue with the American people.

Abdi, a leading moderate political figure in Iran, was one of the student leaders who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans captive for 444 days.

In a gesture of reconciliation, Abdi met former hostage Barry Rosen in Paris last year. Rosen, a former press attache at the embassy, now heads the public affairs department of Teachers College at Columbia University.


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