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Ganji pledges to defy Iran regime

"Jail never forced me to change my views"

— PHOTO: AP



Iran's investigative journalist, Akbar Ganji, at his home in Teheran after his release from prison, on Saturday.

TEHERAN: Iran's most senior dissident journalist, Akbar Ganji, was freed after serving a six-year prison sentence and remained defiant, vowing on Saturday to continue his vocal criticisms of the hard-line clerical regime.

Mr. Ganji (46), appeared gaunt and considerably aged — with a long beard, in contrast to his previous unshaven look — as he received friends and family on Saturday at his home in Teheran following his release the evening before.

Unjust detention

``My views have not changed at all. Jail and pressures never forced me to change my views. Today, I'm more determined to say what I said six years ago,'' said Mr. Ganji, who was on hunger strike for about three months last year and was in solitary confinement for most of his time in prison.

``My imprisonment was unjust and will remain a great injustice forever,'' he said, drawing applause from his audience. Mr. Ganji was sentenced to six years prison in 2000 after reporting on murders of five dissidents by Intelligence Ministry agents and became a hero to the country's reformists for standing up to hard-line clerics. — AP

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