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Iran Judge Bans Reformist Book Sale

August 12, 2000

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ A hard-line judge has banned the sale of a book that implicates former government officials in the 1998 murders of five dissidents, the author’s wife and publisher said Saturday.

Judge Saeed Mortazavi did not give any reasons for imposing the ban on ``Tragedy of Democracy in Iran″ by Emadeddin Baqi, Baqi’s wife, Fatemeh Kamali, said.

The book has gone through four editions, meaning a total print order of 16,000 copies, since it was first published in May. An official at the publisher, Nei, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed it had been ordered to remove the book, but would not give details.

Baqi, whose books are best sellers in Iran, has been in prison since May after being convicted of insulting Islam in articles he wrote last year for the now-banned Neshat newspaper.

Kamali said that she had informed her husband of the ban in a telephone call to his prison.

Judge Mortazavi is one of the magistrates behind the closure of more than two dozen pro-reform newspapers since April.

``The book had been published with the authorization of the Culture Ministry. The judge has no legal right to issue such an order,″ Kamali said.

She added she believed her husband’s prison sentence had been increased to 7 1/2 years from an initial 5 1/2 years because of the book.

``Tragedy of Democracy in Iran″ implicates senior hard-liners _ including former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani _ in the murder of five pro-opposition activists and writers in late 1998.

The Intelligence Ministry has admitted some of its agents were involved in the murders, but said they were rogue operatives.

The agents, who are in custody, are believed to be sympathetic to hard-liners fighting a popular reform movement led by President Mohammad Khatami.

The reformists won control of parliament in February’s legislative elections, but hard-liners still run the judiciary, military and the broadcast network.

Three writers or journalists have been detained in the past week, joining two dozen already in Tehran’s Evin prison. Most are being held on the charge of ``insulting Islamic sanctities.″

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