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Liberal opposition movemment protests Iran arrests

TEHRAN, Aug 5 (AFP) - An Iranian liberal opposition movement has denounced the "campaign of terror" it says is being waged against students in Iran after the wave of unrest that shook the country last month.

The Iran Freedom Movement (IFM) -- which is banned but tolerated by the authorities -- said in an open letter to reformist President Mohammad Khatami, that more than 1,500 students have been arrested in Tehran and elsewhere since the unrest.

"Students who have been released say that their interrogation focussed on their possible links with the IFM or circles close to the opposition," the letter said.

It said "the wave of arrests underway among students is aimed at wiping out the student movement in Iran."

"This movement believes strongly in your reforms and defends them in all sincerity. Do not allow it to be terrorised or repressed under false pretexts."

The intelligence ministry said last week it had arrested leading figures with another opposition group, the Iran People's Party (IPP) -- Khosro Seif, Bahram Namazi, Farzin Mokhber and Mehran Mir Abdol-Baghi -- for their role in the unrest.

The four "instigated rioters to indulge in violent acts," shouted "insulting slogans" against Iran's religious leadership and gave misleading accounts of events to foreign media, the ministry said in a statement read on state radio.

The six-day student demonstration at the beginning of last month, was sparked off by the closure of the pro-reform newspaper Salam.

According to official figures three people were killed in the rioting, and some 1,400 arrested.

Salam was banned Wednesday for five years.


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