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Iranian Judiciary Considering Pardon Of Hunger Striker

Ganji backers on 12 July 20 July 2005 -- The head of Iran's judiciary says it is considering pardoning a leading political prisoner who was hospitalized recently after his hunger strike entered its second month.

The student news agency ISNA quotes Ayatollah Mahmood Hashemi Shahroudi as saying Akbar Ganji may be pardoned if he is eligible for a pardon under the law.

Tehran judiciary chief Abbas Alizadeh had said recently that Ganji would not be released until he completed his sentence.

Ganji was sentenced to six years in jail in 2001 for writing articles claiming links between Iranian government officials and the murders of political dissidents.

On 17 July, the 36th day of his hunger strike, Ganji was transferred to Tehran's Milad Hospital, where visiting family said he was being given nutrients and medication intravenously, according to Radio Farda.

Physicians would not grant access to journalists or Ganji's wife, Masumeh Shafii.

The head of Milad Hospital said on 18 July that Ganji had resumed eating a special diet provided by the hospital, ILNA reported, and suggested he was not in critical condition. Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi said the same day that Ganji must return to jail after his treatment ends.

U.S. President George W. Bush last week called on Iranian authorities to release Ganji.