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Iran frees Canadian-Iranian writer - agencies

Written by: Staff
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TEHRAN, Aug 30 (Reuters) Canadian-Iranian writer Ramin Jahanbegloo, arrested in Tehran four months ago and accused of spying, was released today, Iranian news agencies reported.

A senior Iranian judiciary official was quoted as saying earlier this month that Jahanbegloo had confessed to trying to undermine the Islamic Republic's system of clerical rule and apologised. Canada had asked Iran to either release or charge the writer.

''Ramin Jahanbegloo ... was released today,'' the semi-official Fars News Agency reported, saying it had confirmed the news with an official from Iran's prisons organisation. Iran's student news agency ISNA also reported his release.

Judicial officials contacted by Reuters could not immediately confirm the news.

The case had strained Iran's relations with Canada, which have been icy since Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in detention in Iran in 2003 after being arrested for photographing Evin prison.

Jahanbegloo has worked and lectured on democracy in Iran and how the Islamic Republic can engage with the West and has written on the importance of acknowledging the Holocaust.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned the Holocaust happened.

Jahanbegloo, educated at the Sorbonne and Harvard, has written books and articles on subjects ranging from Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi to political philosopher Isaiah Berlin.

The European Union and human rights groups had also criticised the treatment of Jahanbegloo. Some Western diplomats said the arrest of Jahanbegloo was aimed at intimidating and silencing critics of the government.

REUTERS KR PM1952

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