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Sehaty Foreign Exchange

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Leading liberal editor summoned to Iranian court

TEHRAN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - A leading pro-reform editor was summoned to Iran's press court on Sunday in connection with an earlier case that saw his newspaper, Neshat, banned for insulting Islam, a newspaper colleague said.

Mashallah Shamsolvaezin's court appearance comes a day after he and a colleague appealed to reformist President Mohammad Khatami to break his silence on the mounting pressures against the pro-reform press.

A source at Neshat told Reuters that Shamsolvaezin had received a summons on Thursday to appear in the hardline press court to be informed of the charges against him. No details of the charges were immediately available.

The court closed the newspaper last month and later sentenced publisher Latif Safari to two-and-a-half years in prison for printing an article challenging the Islamic view of capital punishment.

Shamsolvaezin said last week he had not been charged in the case, but added he had been asked to appear in court only as a witness.

In their open letter on Saturday to Khatami, who has fostered Iran's independent press in his campaign for a civil society, Shamsolvaezin and fellow editor Hamid Reza Jalaiepour asked the president to shield them from their powerful critics.

They also appealed to the new head of the judiciary Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi to spare them from political pressure.

The pair have been associated with three newspapers shut down by conservative authorities.

The press has emerged as a central battleground between reformers around Khatami and the conservative establishment, with three major dailies closed within the last six months.


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