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A small group of reformist members of Iran's parliament want the government to release imprisoned journalists and political activists before the Persian New Year on March 21, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Amin Shabani, a member of the reformist faction, described the request in an interview with the "Etemad" newspaper on February 25. He said the parliament should ask the judiciary to release those arrested during postelection unrest in cases where the judiciary has no evidence against those being held.

"The continuation of these people being held in custody without any clear evidence against them will increase concern within society," Dariush Ghanbari, the spokesman for the reformist deputies, said.

Since Iran's disputed June election, authorities have launched a crackdown on journalists and political activists. It is estimated that hundreds remain in custody waiting to be charged.
Journalist Almaz Tashiev in the hospital before he died
Two Kyrgyz policemen found guilty of beating a journalist so badly that he later died have been given suspended sentences, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

A court in the southern region of Osh found Shukurbek Nurmatov and Kurgazy Batyrbek-uulu guilty of abuse of authority and inflicting bodily harm on independent journalist Almaz Tashiev on July 4, 2009.

Tashiev died in the hospital six days later.

Nurmatov and Batyrbek-uulu were given five-year prison sentences, but they were suspended.

Tashiev, 32, worked for the independent newspaper "Agym" (Stream).

Three other police officers are being investigated for their suspected involvement in the attack. Tashiev's relatives said some 14 police officers participated in the incident.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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