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Former Tehran mayor gets approval for new paper

TEHRAN, March 15 (AFP) - The convicted former mayor of Tehran was given the green light Monday by Iran's culture ministry to launch a new newspaper, the official news agency IRNA said.

Gholamhossein Karbaschi was given approval to launch the Ham-Mihan (Compatriot) paper despite onging efforts by opponents in the conservative-dominated parliament to take away his control over the official paper of the Tehran municipality, Hamshari (Citizen).

Conservative MPs have mounted a campaign in the last few weeks to take the 400,000-circulation daily out of the hands of the municipality, effectively ending Karbaschi's control over the paper.

Karbaschi was forced out of office last year and sentenced to five years in prison, and a 20-year ban on holding public office, on corruption charges that he insisted were a political set-up.

But as his successor has yet to be named, the municipal paper remains under the control of the popular former mayor, whose sentence was reduced to two years and a 10-year ban while his case is on appeal with Iran's supreme court.

The spectacular trial of Karbaschi, a close political affiliate of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, was widely seen among reformers and moderates as a politically motivated attack by the regime's conservatives and hardliners.

The ban on holding office has not kept him from his duties as secretary general of the reformist Executives of Construction Party (ECP).

Two ECP members were among the 15 pro-Khatami candidates who swept all seats on the Tehran municipal council in last month's elections, the first municipal elections in Iran since the 1979 revolution.


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