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Iranian reformist publisher is interrogated in court

June 23, Teheran (dpa) - An Iranian reformist publisher was interrogated Wednesday for several hours by a Teheran court over having expressed doubts regarding Islamic values, informed sources said.

Saaid Hajarian, the publisher of the liberal daily newspaper Emruz, was interrogated by a court over ``having expressed doubts'' over Islamic values in reply to a reader's question, the sources said.

Hajarian is a close aide to President Mohammad Khatami and member of the Teheran City Council. His daily is seen as following Khatami's reform course

The interrogation and Hajarian's reply took about five hours and the next session will be held in due time, the sources said.

Almost all of the pro-Khatami dailies are involved in disputes with the judiciary which, together with the Majlis, remains a stronghold of the conservative opposition and consists mainly of traditional clergy.

A plan has been submitted to the Majlis (parliament), which is still controlled by the conservatives, for amending the current press law.

Moderate Culture Minister, Ayatollah Mohajerani, warned Monday against the amendment which he said would lead to limitation of press freedom in Iran .

``Press freedom is part of the people's right and its limitation will have grave consequences as the tendency of the plan is limitation of press freedom which might even endanger the future of the press,'' Mohajerani, a key aide to President Mohammad Khatami, told reporters in Teheran.

He added that the new law ``will definitely not benefit journalists'' and called on MPs not to approve the amendment plan.

Iran 's Press Syndicate protested earlier this month in a letter to the Majlis against the plan to change the existing press laws.


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