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Lawmaker Calls for Mercy in Iran

January 22, 2002

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ President Mohammad Khatami’s pardon of two teen-agers convicted of defaming him should be a model for the hard-line judiciary, which has been punishing some of its pro-reform critics, a legislator said Tuesday.

Mohammad Dadfar said the two young men, aged 18 and 19, were sentenced to three months in jail for distributing leaflets accusing Khatami of undermining Islamic values and the Islamic revolution.

The leaflets were distributed in Bushehr, the port city in southern Iran that Dadfar represents, shortly after Khatami’s landslide re-election in June. Dadfar, a pro-reform lawmaker, did not say when Khatami issued the pardon.

``I’m not at all willing to see anyone get into trouble for libel or insulting me,″ Khatami wrote to provincial governor Hasan Sinaki, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported this week.

Iran’s conservative-controlled judiciary has jailed a number of journalists and political activists in the past year on charges of insulting authorities and Islam.

``I hope conservatives learn from Khatami’s behavior and respond by respecting civil institutions such as an independent press,″ Dadfar said.

Last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pardoned Hossein Loqmanian, a reformist lawmaker convicted of insulting the judiciary. Khamenei’s pardon, followed immediately by Loqmanian’s release, defused a political crisis between the parliament and the judiciary.

Loqmanian was the first lawmaker since the 1979 Islamic revolution to be jailed.

Dadfar himself has been sentenced to seven months in jail on charges of insulting authorities and spreading lies.

An appeals court has upheld Dadfar’s seven-month sentence, but he might not be jailed following Khamenei’s pardon of Loqmanian.

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