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Iran writer Jahanbegloo in jail for spying-reports

Written by: Staff
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TEHRAN, May 4 (Reuters) Prominent Iranian philosopher and writer Ramin Jahanbegloo has been arrested on suspicion of espionage, newspapers said today.

Iran's judiciary on Wednesday confirmed the arrest, without specifying the charges brought against Jahanbegloo, who also holds Canadian citizenship.

The first prominent intellectual arrested since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, Jahanbegloo is being held at Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where most of Iran's jailed political dissidents are kept.

Several newspapers carried reports linking the top writer's arrest to ''espionage''.

''Jahanbegloo has been arrested ... on charges of spying,'' an unnamed source was quoted by the official Iran newspaper as saying.

The source did not elaborate.

Rights groups frequently lambaste Iran for detaining pro-reform writers, journalists and intellectuals without due legal process.

Today's edition of Canada's Ottawa Citizen newspaper link Jahanbegloo's detention to an article he wrote for Spanish daily El Pais in January, in which he challenged Ahmadinejad's remarks that the Holocaust was a myth.

But Iran's culture minister denied any relation between Jahanbegloo's articles and his detention.

''In the Islamic Republic, no-one is arrested for expressing their views,'' Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi told a news conference today.

Jahanbegloo, educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and Harvard University, has written and edited books in English, French and Persian on subjects such as Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and liberal political philosopher Isaiah Berlin.

Head of the Department for Contemporary Studies at the Cultural Research Bureau in Tehran, he has also lectured on the prospects for democracy in Iran and on whether the Islamic state can engage with the West.

REUTERS PM RN2119

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