Iran: President's press adviser sentenced

AP News
Posted: Nov 20, 2011 2:23 PM
Iran: President's press adviser sentenced

The Iranian president's press adviser has been sentenced to a year in prison on charges of "publishing materials contrary to Islamic norms," the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.

Ali Akbar Javanfekr has also been banned from journalism activities for three years, IRNA said.

Javanfekr is just the latest of dozens of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's political backers to be targeted by hard-line opponents. This appears to be part of an internal power struggle over influencing upcoming elections for parliament, slated for March, and for president in 2013.

Javanfekr wrote in an official publication that the practice of women wearing a head-to-toe black covering known as a chador was not originally an Iranian practice but was imported. This was considered offensive by hard-line Iranian clerics.

The court sentenced him to six months for publication of materials and pictures "contrary to Islamic norms" and another six months for writings against Islamic norms, IRNA said.

Javanfekr has 20 days to appeal the sentence. His lawyer, Abdollah Nakhaei, said the verdict is unfair and that he will definitely appeal it.

The verdict came hours after authorities banned the pro-reform Etemaad daily for two months for publishing the text of an interview Saturday with Javanfekr, in which he criticized conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad for the arrest of dozens of the president's allies over the past months.

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Authorities made no mention of the interview. Instead, they said the paper was ordered closed on charges of insulting officials and "spreading lies."

Though Ahmadinejad himself is a hard-liner, he and some of his allies have come under attack over political disputes in recent months from the same conservatives who brought him to power.

Iran experienced a wave of newspaper closures during a confrontation between reformers and hard-liners during the 1997-2005 tenure of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

The judiciary has shut down more than 120 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers on vague charges of insulting authorities since 2000.