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Iran jails another publisher

TEHRAN, April 23 (Reuters) - The publisher of a banned newspaper was jailed on Sunday when Iran's Supreme Court rejected his final appeal, the official IRNA news agency said, in a continuing clampdown on the liberal press.

Latif Safari had been sentenced to 30 months imprisonment by the hardline press court for offences including insulting religious sanctities -- the most common charge brought against pro-reform journalists in Iran.

The same court had closed his popular Neshat newspaper and jailed chief-editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin on similar charges.

Safari's imprisonment came one day after the detention of another top pro-reformist journalist, Akbar Ganji.

Ganji, an author and editor, was held after the press court interrogated him on Saturday over a recent trip to Berlin, where he attended a seminar on Iran's reforms.

He had angered Iran's conservative establishment with allegations that top intelligence officials were behind the serial murders of secular dissidents.

On Sunday, the press court set the trial of another pro-reform editor, Emadeddin Baqi, for May 1. He too has alleged an establishment role in the murders of dissidents.

Baqi, an advocate of pluralism and greater tolerance, was charged earlier this month with crimes including acting against state security and insulting religious values.

Among the 11 plaintiffs are Tehran's conservative justice chief, the intelligence ministry, the Revolutionary Guards and the state broadcasting organisation, dominated by hardliners.

Iran's courts have already closed a number of pro-reform publications and banned some of their publishers from press activities. Special clerical courts, meanwhile, have silenced members of the clergy who managed newspapers.


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