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Iranians Want Release of Scholar

March 3, 1999

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iranian journalists and students urged President Mohammad Khatami to press for the release of a reformist religious scholar, saying Wednesday that his detention was a blow to freedom of expression.

The Association of Islamic Students demanded that Khatami abolish the Special Clerical Court that detained Mohsen Kadivar on Saturday for questioning. The court, a conservative-led body that reports only to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, operates independently from Iran’s judicial system.

``Students and free-thinking people expect the honorable president to abolish this illegal body as soon as possible,″ a statement by the student movement said.

Kadivar, who has backed reforms, was detained by the court on charges of ``confusing public opinion″ in interviews with the press and in his lectures, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

``No reason can be traced″ for Kadivar’s arrest, said a letter by managing directors of Iran’s major daily newspapers. Kadivar, a university lecturer, is a ``sincere and hard working″ promoter of religious beliefs, IRNA quoted the letter as saying.

It said his arrest was ``a blow to the realm of freedom of expression and the press.″

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