Rafsanjani urges Akbar Ganji's release!

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Rafsanjani urges Akbar Ganji's release!

Postby IPC » Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:58 am

Rafsanjani urges Akbar Ganji's release!
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran

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An undated handout picture shows Iran's jailed dissident Akbar Ganji laying at a prison hospital in Tehran. Iran's outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami criticised the 'obstinacy' Ganji in continuing a one-and-a-half month hunger strike.


TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran

Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called on Thursday for the release of jailed journalist Akbar Ganji, whose family says has been on hunger strike for over six weeks, the official IRNA news agency said.

Ganji, an outspoken critic of the Islamic state's clerical leadership, was jailed in 2001 following a series of articles he wrote linking officials to the murder of political dissidents.

A former hardline Revolutionary Guard turned radical reformer, Ganji was rushed to a Tehran hospital last week.

Rafsanjani, who was president from 1989 to 1997, said he had been in talks with judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi over Ganji's release.

"I am very sad about Ganji's case. I have talked to top judiciary officials to solve the case," Rafsanjani said.

Senior judiciary officials have denied that Ganji is on hunger strike and say he was taken to hospital for knee surgery.

But Ganji's wife told Reuters his health was suffering as a result of his hunger strike, begun in protest against his continued detention despite chronic asthma and back pain.

Rafsanjani, currently head of the Expediency Council, which arbitrates on legislative disputes between parliament and a hardline watchdog body, said: "Hopefully the problem will be solved soon."

Officials at the Milad hospital where Ganji remains said the maverick journalist's health was "very weak."

"Ganji's vital signs are normal, but it does not mean his health situation is good," Sirous Tabesh, a spokesman for the hospital told the Students News Agency ISNA.

"He does not cooperate with us and refuses to take anything but water and tea," Tabesh said. "He might face electrolyte disorder."

Iran's outgoing President Mohammad Khatami

Mohammad Khatami has urged that Ganji be paroled since he has just six months of his sentence to run. The European Union

European Union and the United States have both also called for Ganji's release.

Iran's judiciary has said it will not yield to international pressure to free Ganji, but a senior judiciary official said last week a pardon might be considered. Ganji's family and rights activists say he has lost more than 55 lb in weight as a result of his fast.

Ganji's lawyer, Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, and the Human Rights Watch organization have repeatedly said Ganji's life is in danger.
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