PRO-KHATAMI JOURNALIST AND INTELLECTUAL ARRESTED
TEHRAN 22 DEC (IPS0 Iranian religious authorities have arrested Mr Akbar Ganji, a journalist and intellectual close to both the new Iranian president, ayatollah Mohammad Khatami and Dr Abdol Karim Sorush, the leading dissident Islamist thinker and philosopher, according to well informed sources.
Like in the case of Dr Ebrahim Yazdi, the General Secretary of the illegal but tolerated Islam-based Iran Freedom Movement who was arrested last week, or all other intellectual dissidents who get arrested in the Islamic Republic by the ruling religious establishment, there was no official announcement nor any reason given by the authorities explaining the arrest of Mr Ganji.
A former member of the board of the monthly "Kian", a literary magazine reflecting the views of Dr Sorush as well as "Sarat" (Way) Publishing House specialised in publishing his books, Mr Ganji, 38, worked at the Islamic Guidance Ministry under Mr Khatami and spent three years in Ankara as a Cultural attaché. During the presidential election, he played an active role in Mr Khatami's electoral campaign. He was summoned on 6th December by the Islamic Revolution tribunal and arrested the same day, according to friends and family sources that asked for total anonymity.
Analysts noted the similarities in the detention of Dr Yazdi and Mr Ganji, not only because the two men are, politically speaking, in the camp of the new president, but because their arrest was triggered by secret taping by the regime's agents of remarks they made during private meetings.
Sources told the IPS that Mr Ganji held informal discussion with students at the Shiraz University on Fascism. His remarks, taped secretly by agents pausing as students, were interpreted as being critical of the leader and the ruling conservative clergy and taken to the religious authorities for action.
Exactly same thing has happened to Mr Yazdi. Informed sources told the IPS that agents had recorded all the conversations held during a private meeting with friends and party members by Mr Yazdi while denouncing physical and verbal violence the conservatives, on order from the ayatollah Khameneh'i, used against the grand ayatollah Husseinali Montazeri.
The religious authorities leaked the information on Mr Yazdi's arrest the very same day Mr Khatami, during a press conference with international press, offered a direct "dialogue" to come soon with the "great people of America".
In recent articles, the daily "Jomhuri Eslami", the mouthpiece of Mr Khatami, has stepped up its criticism of the president. Criticising Mr Khatami's comments on America, his opening to the Persian Gulf Shaikhdoms as well as to Egypt, the paper said "following conciliatory statements made here (in Tehran), US officials pretends changes in their favour is taking place in Iran. Though once again the Americans are wrong, but also everyone must know that our foreign policy is made by his highness the great leader who in very strong and clear way has once again ruled out any normalisation with criminal Great Satan".