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Liberal Iranian editor is free

world Updated: Oct 31, 2009 00:23 IST

Reuters
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A pro-reform editor who was detained shortly after Iran's disputed election in June has been freed on bail of 1 billion rials (about $100,000), an Iranian news agency reported on Friday.

Labour news agency ILNA said Mohammad Qouchani, editor-in-chief of Etemad-e Melli newspaper, was released from Tehran's Evin jail on Thursday evening. A reformist website, Tagheer.com, said he had spent 131 days in detention.

Etemad-e Melli, the newspaper of reformist cleric and defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi, was shut down by the authorities in August.

Thousands of people were arrested after the June election, which sparked huge street protests and plunged Iran into political turmoil.

The moderate opposition says the poll was rigged to secure hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities deny it.

Most of the detainees have since been released, but more than 100 senior reformers, activists, journalists and others, have been put on trial accused of fomenting street unrest. The opposition has denounced the court sessions as "show trials".

Several of the accused have received jail sentences and three death sentences have been handed down, according to Iranian media. Under Iranian law, the verdicts can be appealed.

The authorities have portrayed the post-election street demonstrations, which were quelled by the elite Revolutionary Guards and an allied Islamic militia, as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic Republic.

The opposition says more than 70 people were killed in the violence. Officials say the death toll was half that and that members of the security forces were among the victims.