Journalist jailed after Iran elections freed, media reports

Various organizations and individuals signed petitions asking for release of journalist Bahari, Newsweek says.
A Newsweek journalist accused of making false accusations against the Iranian government in the wake of the disputed presidential election in June was released from prison Saturday, Iranian media reported.

Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian correspondent based in Tehran, was among the more than 100 journalists, reformist leaders and former government ministers who went on trial in August in Iran’s Revolutionary Court. Bahari was released from Evin prison on nearly $300,000 bail after spending four months behind bars, a revolutionary court spokesman told the news agency. The conditions of his release were not disclosed. Newsweek, which has firmly rejected the allegations against Bahari, reported Saturday that authorities did not specify why the journalist was released. Bahari, 42, is expecting his first child October 26, and “the mother has experienced serious health complications,” Newsweek said in an article on its Web site. “Humanitarian considerations were presumed to have played a role in the decision,” the article said. “We are relieved that Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari is home with his family today. We would like to thank all of those who supported Maziar through this long and uncertain period,” the magazine said in a statement. Newsweek said various organizations and individuals signed petitions asking for his release. Bahari’s case was among those raised at recent talks between the United States and Iran in Geneva. The government of Iran arrested more than 1,000 people in a massive crackdown following the June 12 election.

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Iran’s election commission declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the overwhelming winner of the race, prompting hundreds of thousands of Iranians to fill the streets of Tehran in protest, contending the election was fraudulent. Bahari was accused of propagandizing against Iran, favoring opposition groups; sending false reports through the foreign media; and disturbing the peace by participating in the post-election demonstrations, according to Fars. The Iranian Labour News Agency said the reporter also was accused of possessing classified documents. According to Fars, Bahari confessed after his arrest at a news conference. CNN was unable to confirm the agency report. Human rights groups have accused prison guards of coercing false confessions among other forms of detainee mistreatment.