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World News

Iran frees senior reformer Hajjarian on bail

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran freed a senior reformer, accused of fomenting opposition protests after a disputed presidential election in June, on bail on Wednesday after more than three months in detention.

Saeed Hajjarian leaves a Tehran courthouse in this January 16, 2000 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Saeed Hajjarian was released before noon (0830 GMT), the semi-official Mehr News Agency quoted senior prisons official Sohrab Soleimani as saying.

Hajjarian’s lawyer Gholamali Riahi told ISNA news agency, without giving details, “my client has been released on bail until the next trial session.”

Hajjarian, disabled since an assassination attempt in 2000 and an ally of reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, is among several prominent opposition figures who have been put on trial charged with orchestrating post-election unrest.

At one of several mass trial sessions held last month, Hajjarian was quoted as saying he had “made major mistakes during the election by presenting incorrect analyses”.

Khatami, who backed opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi in the poll, has said confessions made at the trials were obtained under “extraordinary conditions” and were invalid.

At an Aug. 25 court session, a prosecutor accused Hajjarian of acting against national security and demanded “maximum punishment” for a crime which can carry the death sentence in the Islamic Republic.

Fellow activists and the family of Hajjarian, a former deputy intelligence minister turned architect of Iran’s reform movement in the late 1990s, expressed concern about his health while he was in prison.

The June election plunged Iran into its most serious internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and has exposed deep divisions in the establishment’s ruling elite.

Analysts see the trials as an attempt by the authorities to uproot the moderate opposition and put an end to street protests that erupted after the election.

Defeated moderate candidates say the vote was rigged to secure hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. They also say some detainees were abused in jail.

Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Samia Nakhoul

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