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Journalist handed seven-year prison sentence, opposition websites report

IPI condemns continuing media crackdown

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 5 Jan. 2010 - A high-profile journalist who has criticised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic strategies has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison, news reports said Tuesday.

Bahman Ahmadi Amoui "has been sentenced to seven years and four months in jail plus 34 lashes," the reformist Kaleme and Rahesabz websites said, according to AFP.

Amoui was arrested and imprisoned during a brutal clampdown on critical journalists and reformists following protests sparked by the disputed 12 June re-election of Ahmadinejad as president amid accusations of poll rigging.

It was not clear what charges had been brought against Amoui, a regular contributor, for years, to reformist media outlets.

Amoui was an editor for the prominent economic newspaper Sarmayeh, which was closed by the government in November, and had been in prison since 20 June.

Iran has already held trials for 140 people accused of breaching national security by participating in, or fueling, violent street protests sparked by the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad.

A number of reformist politicians and journalists have been handed down prison sentences.

On Saturday the appeals court upheld a prison sentence of six years handed down to prominent reformist journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi, who must serve his sentence in a remote town over 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Tehran, AFP reported.

"It is unacceptable that the Iranian authorities are responding to criticism in the media by arresting journalists and handing down prison sentences," said IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills. "The crackdown on the media must end immediately and the journalists imprisoned simply for doing their job must be freed."

IPI has repeatedly condemned the intensified crackdown by the Iranian authorities on journalists.

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