In a trial that transfixed the nation, 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 on November 27. 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, in advance 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.
The charges against him, which included defaming “the system,” insulting religious leaders, and disseminating false information and propaganda against the state, were based on news articles published in Khordad. During the trial, Nouri sharply criticized the clerical establishment and called for greater freedoms in Iranian society.
He was sentenced to five years in prison and barred from practicing journalism for five years. Khordad was ordered to close. At year’s end, Nouri was serving his sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison.