By Hiedeh Farmani (AFP) – Nov 22, 2009
TEHRAN — Iranian former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who has been sentenced to six years in prison in connection with protests over June's presidential election, has been released on bail, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.
Abtahi, who was a close aide of reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, was granted bail pending appeal of the jail term handed down by the court of first instance, the ISNA news agency reported.
Under Iranian law, any jail sentence of three months or more is subject to appeal and a convict can be granted bail for the 20-day period allowed for one to be lodged.
"Abtahi was released this afternoon after he paid the bail amount," Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi told IRNA.
ISNA quoted the head of the revolutionary courts as saying that bail was set at seven billion rials (700,000 US dollars).
"Abtahi was sentenced to six years in prison for acting against national security and propaganda activity," the news agency quoted the courts chief as saying without giving his name.
The former vice president was among scores of opposition figures who were arrested shortly after the publication of official election results giving hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term.
He had remained in custody ever since.
An Iranian website reported earlier that Abtahi had appeared in court on Saturday and been found guilty of a variety of charges including "gathering and plotting against the country's security, propaganda against the regime, insulting the president and participating in an illegal demonstration."
The report said the court had used as evidence posts on his web log, an interview with the BBC's Persian service and participation in a protest rally on June 15, when hundreds of thousands marched across Tehran.
The judiciary official told ISNA that Abtahi was still facing prosecution before the revolutionary courts on the additional charge of "keeping classified documents."
Protesters charging the election was massively rigged held a series of mass demonstrations this summer, plunging the Islamic republic into one of its worst crisis in 30 years.
Thousands were arrested and dozens killed. The opposition charges that a number of those detained were abused or raped in custody. About 140 protesters have been tried and five have been sentenced to death.
Abtahi, who was detained only a few days after the June 12 vote, reportedly withdrew his accusations of electoral fraud when he appeared in court on August 1 and expressed regret that he had taken part in the protests.
The opposition has condemned the "show trials" and "forced confessions," and called for the prisoners' unconditional release.
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