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Canada Criticizes Iran Over Journalist Trial

26 July 2004 -- Canada has expressed dissatisfaction with an Iranian court decision to acquit an intelligence agent accused in the killing of Iranian-born Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi.

A court cleared Iranian Intelligence Ministry agent Mohammad Reza Aqdam Ahmadi on 24 July in the murder case due to a lack of evidence.

Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said the ruling did nothing to answer the questions about how Kazemi died or bring the perpetrators to justice.

In a statement issued late yesterday, Pettigrew said Canada is reviewing further options. Canada has already withdrawn its ambassador to Iran in protest.

Lawyers for Kazemi said yesterday they planned to lodge an appeal for the case to be reopened at a higher court.

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi -- who is representing the family of Kazemi -- vowed not to rest until the killer of Kazemi has been identified.

Kazemi was arrested a year ago after taking photos of a Tehran prison and died from a blow to the head while in detention.

Ebadi today joined some 100 Iranian journalists for a sit-in protest over a new crackdown on media freedoms in Iran.

The protest was held at the office of the Association for Press Freedom in Tehran. It was attended by several journalists and publishers who have had their publications shut down by the country's clerical establishment.

The Association for Press Freedom says more than 90 publications have been closed and nearly 20 journalists and publishers jailed in recent months in Iran.