February 23, 2003


TEHERAN, 23 Feb. (IPS) Outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic and journalist, Mr. Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara was hospitalised Saturday night, after being freed from prison, familiy sources and friends confirmed Sunday.

"No conditions have been set for the release of my father, his son Vahid said, adding that his father was released last night but his doctor decided that he had better stay in the hospital for a few days to both have his problematic heart checked and help him restore his vigour after a five-day hunger strike", Vahid told journalists.

Mr. Sazgara, who runs the Internet news website "All Iran" was abducted in front of his residence on Tuesday by plainclothes men, following an article in which he strongly criticised both the country's political system and its leaders, observing that after a quarter of century of inability, inefficiency, irresponsibility and failures, it was time for this regime to give way to a fully secular and democratic system.

"During their lengthy reign, the Islamist have created a very inefficient system that has generated corruption, prostitution, cronyism and nepotism" he noted in his last public letter, wrote in Farsi under the title of "The First Step, The Last Word", and published on his website.

In an interview with the Persian service of the Radio France International (RFI), Mr. Sazegara described himself as a "law abiding dissident" who struggles for the change in the present Constitution and the major policies of the regime by "peaceful means".

"My strategy is crystal clear. It is based on democratic methods, like peaceful civil disobedience and referendum", he said, adding that to fulfil his aim, he envisages five steps, which are: A) Dissemination of the idea; B) Its development and attracting followers; C) organisin the followers; D) Struggle and resistance and D) Organisation a nationwide referendum.

He said he would start from Tuesday his first public meetings, talking about the subject and offer it to "our normal followers in the National Coalition of Iranians for Freedom, the students, teachers, scholars, urban technocrats etc.."

The Coalition was formed some three months ago in Tehran, with Dr. Qasem Sho’leh Sa’di, a prominent lawyer and former member of the Majles, as its official spokesman.

Mr. Sho’leh Sa’di, himself author of an open letter to Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, in which he questioned the legitimacy of his leadership as well as his foreign and domestic policies, left Sunday evening Paris for Tehran, after a month of political activities and also medical check ups in the French capital.

Though his family confirmed that Mr. Sazegara was freed from the notorious Evin prison, but the authorities had told his wife that they did not had any one on the name of Sazegara in this jail.

The sudden release of Mr. Sazgara, who suffers from heart problem, might have been decided of the fear that in case he died in the prison, due to an eventual heart failure, the regime would be hold responsible and even aqcused of having killed him, observers said.

Meanwhile, more protesters and demonstrators were arrested on Sunday in front of the Laleh Hotel, decrying the jailing of political activists, eyewitnesses confirmed to Iran Press Service.

Hotel Laleh is where the five-members United Nations Human Rights Commission stays in Tehran.

The delegation, led by a French lawyer, arrived in Tehran last week on the invitation of Iranian Judiciary to examine arbitrary detentions in the Islamic Republic on the first visit after seven years, but it had been prevented by the authorities to meet leading prisoners, including Mr. Naser Zarafshan, the lawyer for the victims of "Chain Murder", Abdolfattah Soltani and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, also lawyers, and Ali Afshari and the Mohammadi brothers, students leaders.

"Hundreds of people, most of them families of political prisoners, who had gathered in front of the Hotel, chanting slogans for the release of political prisoners were attacked by police and plainclothes men, arresting some of them", the source said.

Iran's hard line Judiciary has closed down around 90 reformist newspapers and arrested dozens of political activists and journalists in the past three years and the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres has "awarded" the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khameneh'i, as the world’s most dangerous predator of the freedom of the press. ENDS SAZEGARA HOSPITALISED 23302



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