Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ramin on Our Minds

Jailed Iranian writer barred from seeing lawyer

Tue Jun 13, 2006 5:14 AM EDT170

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Canadian-Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo,arrested in Tehran last month on spying charges, has been denied accessto a lawyer during his interrogations, the judiciary said on Tuesday.Canada earlier this month asked Iran to either release or chargeJahanbegloo, who has joint nationality, and the case has furtherstrained the icy relations between the two governments.

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

Iran's President MahmoudAhmadinejad has questioned whether it happened."It is a security case. Based on the law, when it is at this stage ofthe investigation, he cannot have access to a lawyer," Justice MinisterJamal Karimirad told a news conference at Evin prison in north Tehran. Karimirad gave no indication of how long the investigation stage mighttake. Authorities had invited journalists on a very rare visit to thenotorious Evin prison, where political prisoners like Jahanbegloo areheld.

Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Ottawa have been poor sinceCanadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in detention in Iranin 2003 after being arrested for photographing Evin prison. Iran says conditions are improving in its jails but rights groupsdescribe arbitrary detention and solitary confinement and say detaineesshould have more access to lawyers and family.

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


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