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Jail for Ahmadinejad media aide over news articles

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's media adviser has been sentenced to a year in prison for overseeing news articles on women and the Islamic headscarf, the news agency Mehr reported today.

world Updated: Nov 20, 2011 21:23 IST

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's media adviser has been sentenced to a year in prison for overseeing news articles on women and the Islamic headscarf, the news agency Mehr reported on Sunday.

Javanfekr, who is to appeal the sentence, also prompted a separate two-month ban on a reformist newspaper, Etemad, after it ran an interview with him criticising Ahmadinejad's hardline opponents, according to another Mehr report.

The legal developments come ahead of March 2012 legislative elections that are heightening political tensions between Ahmadinejad and his aides on one side, and ultra-conservatives in Iran's judiciary and parliament on the other.

As well as his role as presidential adviser, Javanfekr heads Iran's state-run news agency IRNA and newspaper IRAN.

Mehr quoted Javanfekr's lawyer as saying they would appeal the sentence by the Tehran criminal court, which ordered a year in prison and a three-year ban on journalism for Javanfekr.

The court found him guilty of publishing articles and images "against Islamic values" and "contrary to public morals" in a special issue of IRAN last August that looked at the daily life of Iranian women, who have to cover their hair.

The edition featured photos and caricatures, and repeated declarations by Ahmadinejad that he was against repression forcing uncovered women to don the headwear.

The separate two-month ban on Etemad ordered by Tehran's prosecutor was for printing what the country's press watchdog said was "lies and insults," several news agencies reported.

Mehr quoted Etemad's managing editor, Elias Hazrati, as saying it was because of a recent interview with Javanfekr that criticised Ahmadinejad opponents.

"We were informed that the ban was for publishing an interview with Javanfekr... We had edited parts of the interview but it must have still not been deemed acceptable," Hazrati was quoted as saying.

Etemad, Iran's leading reformist title, had already been subjected to a 15-month suspension that ended in June this year.

The country's ultra-conservatives have in recent months piled pressure on Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, whom they accuse of undermining Islamic values and being too socially liberal.