Aide to Iran’s Ahmadinejad arrested as boss gives U.N. speech


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TEHRAN -- Iranian authorities arrested and jailed a top press advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday, the culmination of a legal saga that began last year when the aide was convicted of publishing an ‘offensive’ magazine article on how Iranian women should dress.

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who also headed IRAN Magazine, was banned last year from working in journalism for three years after his publication ran an article exploring the history of Islamic dress, which was critical of women being compelled to wear a head scarf. The piece was deemed contrary to ‘Islamic principles,’ leading to charges against Javanfekr for publishing material ‘offensive to Islamic codes and public morality.’


Javanfekr also served as managing editor of the official Islamic Republic News Agency. His conviction last year was seen as an escalation of the feud between Ahmadinejad and other Iranian conservatives, who accuse the president of undermining Islamic values and trying to marginalize clerics.

The arrest was carried out Wednesday while Ahmadinejad was delivering a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the official news agency reported. Javanfekr was taken to Evin Prison in Tehran to serve his sentence, it said.

His attorney, Ghahreman Shojaeiat, said Javanfekr was given a six-month sentence for the magazine article and a second sentence of one year on a charge of insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s website, which meant he would serve the longer sentence.

Though Javanfekr was convicted and sentenced last year, he had appealed his case. An appeals court upheld the charges against him in February. It was not immediately clear Wednesday why he wasn’t jailed at the time that his appeal was denied. Iranian authorities also shut down a reformist daily newspaper over a caricature of soldiers blindfolding one another, seen by war veterans as an insult. Fars News Agency reported that 120 Iranian lawmakers called for a ban of the Shargh daily after the caricature ran Tuesday.


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-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran