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Ganji Accuses Official

November 30, 2000 TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- In a daring allegation, Iran's leading investigative journalist on Thursday accused former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian of ordering the killing of political dissidents two years ago. Photo here

Akbar Ganji, appearing at the Tehran Revolutionary Court to answer charges of endangering state security, made the charge in a courtroom packed with journalists and spectators.

Fallahian resigned in 1999, and there was no way to contact him for comment on the allegation. The Intelligence Ministry has blamed ``rogue'' agents for the 1998 killings of five writers and intellectuals associated with the opposition.

This month, the hard-line judiciary said 17 defendants would go on trial Dec. 25 on charges of involvement in the killings. The judiciary said Saeed Emami, a senior Intelligence Ministry official, and two intelligence operatives ordered the killings. Authorities said Emami committed suicide after his arrest.

Ganji also accused leading hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi of indirectly authorizing the killings of the dissidents.

``Mesbah said everybody who insulted sanctities must be killed without trial,'' Ganji said.

In court, Ganji also openly challenged Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying, ``I have the right not to agree with the leader. Is this a crime? I disagree with the leader when he described the newspapers which have been banned as the base of the enemy. I disagree with him on the press law. I shouldn't be punished for disagreeing with the leader.''

Khamenei has the final say on all matters in Iran and is seldom criticized or challenged.

Ganji, 40, is accused of harming Iranian security by taking part in a conference on Iran in Berlin in April. He is one of 17 people on trial on charges stemming from the conference, which hard-liners condemned as hostile to Iran and its Islamic principles. He maintains that he is being punished for exposing the role of hard-liners in the killings.

When Judge Hassan Moqaddas said the conference was organized by the German Green Party, which ``is affiliated with the Zionists,'' Ganji's response was sharp.

``If connection with the Green Party is a crime and the party is affiliated to the Zionists, then why did its leader, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, visit Iran and hold talks with Iranian officials?'' he asked.

``I've committed no crimes other than defending freedoms and human rights,'' Ganji said.

In November 1998, a husband and wife who ran a small dissident group were found knifed to death in their Tehran home. Over the next few weeks, the bodies of three other dissident writers and intellectuals were discovered in various parts of the capital.


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