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Neshat director summoned

TEHRAN, Sept 9 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-controlled press court has summoned the director of a pro-reform daily, banned this week on charges of publishing "anti-Islamic" articles, press reports said Thursday.

Latif Safari, director of the moderate Neshat daily, banned just five days ago by the conservative judiciary, has until Sunday to appear before Tehran's press court following 10 listed complaints against the paper, Arya newspaper reported.

Neshat, close to reformist President Mohammad Khatami, was closed down after publishing two controversial articles last week calling for an end to the death penalty and Iran's strict "eye-for-an-eye" Islamic law of retribution.

It also published an unprecedented open letter from an opposition leader questioning the authority of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The paper is accused of "insulting the basic tenets of Islam, as well as Khamenei," an illegal act under Iranian law.

But editors of the popular daily denounced the ban Monday as a political ploy to silence Iran's reform movement, and made good their vow to defy the closure by opening a new daily which hit newsstands across the capital Thursday.

Neshat is the fourth pro-Khatami paper to be banned this year.


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