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Iran Frees Syrian Journalist Held During Protests

An Iranian opposition protester gestures during clashes with security forces in Tehran on December 27.

An Iranian opposition protester gestures during clashes with security forces in Tehran on December 27.

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has freed a Syrian journalist working for Dubai television who was detained during antigovernment protests two weeks ago, Tehran's chief prosecutor was quoted as saying.

"This Syrian journalist was freed from jail this morning," Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told the semi-official Fars news agency. The same official had said on January 9 that Iran planned to release the journalist.

Eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi on Ashura, a day of ritual Shi'ite mourning that fell on December 27.

It was the worst violence since protests in the immediate aftermath of a disputed presidential election in June.

Opposition protesters say the vote was rigged in favor of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, which the government denies.

The opposition website "Rahesabz" said on January 6 that more than 180 people, including 17 journalists, 10 Musavi aides and some members of the outlawed Baha'i faith, were arrested in the aftermath of the Dec. 27 protests.

A European diplomat was held for 24 hours. Dolatabadi said today the diplomat was Swedish.

"This diplomat at the Swedish Embassy in Tehran was arrested by security forces during the unrest on Ashura, but he was released after his identity was verified," Dolatabadi told Fars.

He said on January 8 that five detainees whom Iran plans to try in connection with last month's antigovernment protests were members of the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (aka Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, MKO), an exile group opposed to Iran's Islamic system of government.

Separately, an opposition website today said about 30 "mourning mothers," with children who were killed or disappeared during the postelection unrest, were arrested in a Tehran park on January 9 and taken to a detention center in the capital.

The mothers gather in Tehran's Laleh park every Saturday, the "Kaleme" website said. The report could not be independently verified.