Iran releases Newsweek reporter on bail

Saturday, October 17, 2009

TEHRAN - Iran Saturday released Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari on bail after four months’ detention, the ILNA news agency reported.

Iranian-Canadian Maziar Bahari was released on bail amounting to almost $300,000, ILNA quoted a judiciary official as saying.

Bahari was arrested last June while covering protest demonstrations following the disputed June 12 presidential election.

Further details about the release were not immediately known but state television confirmed the ILNA report and the release on bail on its official website.

According to informed sources, the 42-year-old Bahari is expected to stay with his mother in Tehran until it was clarified whether he would be allowed to leave the country or wait for further justice proceedings.

According to ILNA, Bahari, who has been working for Newsweek since 1998 and is also a renowned documentary filmmaker, was arrested and detained June 21 on charges of having made propaganda against the Iranian establishment through spreading false news.

He gave a press conference June 30 in which he confessed that Western journalists were spies and that he had contributed to plans by opposition groups to topple the Islamic establishment. At the time, his remarks raised questions about a forced confession.

Plans to topple the system and espionage activities can lead in Iran to death sentences. For three of the post-vote detainees such a sentence was issued although their lawyers were allowed to appeal the verdict.

During his visit to New York last month, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was asked by several US press circles to use his influence to enable Bahari’s release.

Some 4,000 people, including journalists and former reformist officials, were arrested after they protested against alleged fraud charges in the presidential election which led to Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

Over 100 dissidents are still detained and face charges of plans to topple the Islamic establishment. Dozens of demonstrators were also killed in the protests.

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