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Iran: Supreme Leader Pardons Lawmaker, Defuses Tensions

Tehran, 15 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, settled a dispute today between the country's pro-reform legislators and the hard-line conservative judiciary by pardoning a jailed lawmaker. Hossein Loqmanian was freed, after becoming the first sitting member of the parliament to be imprisoned for criticizing the government since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

He was sentenced to 10 months in jail for criticizing the judiciary in a parliamentary speech.

Reformers argued the imprisonment violated the constitution, which grants them immunity from prosecution.

But after a parliamentary walkout today demanding Loqmanian's release, the head of the conservative judiciary recommended the pardon. Parliamentary Speaker Mehdi Karroubi led the walkout, saying the judiciary had "committed aggression against parliament" in imprisoning Loqmanian.