Iran to try 16 people soon over December unrest-report

Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:36pm GMT

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will soon put on trial 16 people arrested in connection with anti-government protests that turned violent last month, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Friday.

Fars did not identify the defendants but said one was accused of "moharebeh" -- an Islamic term meaning warring against God -- which carries the death penalty.

The others were accused of gathering with the intention of disrupting national security and propaganda activities against the Islamic establishment, Fars said.

Underlining the authorities' tough stand on dissent, national police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam warned the opposition against using text messages or emails to organise fresh anti-government protests.

"Attending illegal gatherings, protests and insulting sanctities will be confronted," ISNA news agency quoted Ahmadi-Moghaddam as saying.

"These (emails and text messaging) ... are completely under control. Users should not think that using proxies would prevent their identification," he added. It was his second public order this week to the opposition not to organise fresh protests.

Lacking newspapers, the opposition has in the past used the internet and other means of communication to spread the word about rallies.


Protests began after Iran's disputed presidential election in June, which the pro-reform opposition says was rigged, a charge the authorities reject. For several weeks after the election, the use of mobile text messages seemed to be blocked.   Continued...

<p>An Iranian protester throws a stone at riot police as angry protesters set their motorbikes on fire during fierce clashes in central Tehran December 27, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer</p>
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