Jailed editor pardoned and released

New York, November 6, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes the release of prominent Iranian journalist and reform politician Abdullah Nouri.

On Tuesday, November 5, Iranian authorities announced that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had commuted the remainder of Nouri’s five-year prison term. The pardon came while Nouri was furloughed from prison to attend the funeral of his brother, who was killed last week in a car accident.

In November 1999, Iran’s Special Court for Clergy convicted Nouri, publisher of the reformist daily Khordad and a former vice president and interior minister, of religious dissent. The conviction was widely viewed as an attempt by conservative forces within the regime to sideline Nouri, an influential ally of reformist president Muhammad Khatami, ahead of the country’s February 2000 elections. Nouri was believed to be a front-runner for the important position of speaker of Iran’s Parliament.

Nouri was charged with defaming “the system,” insulting religious leaders, and disseminating false information and propaganda against the state in articles published in Khordad.

At least two journalists remain in jail in Iran because of their work.

“We welcome the release of our colleague Abdullah Nouri, who was unjustly imprisoned for nearly three years,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We call on Ayatollah Khamenei to seize this moment and free the other journalists who remain in prison.”