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Iran: Head Of Polling Institute Jailed

Tehran, 17 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An Iranian court has jailed the head of a polling institute that published a survey showing that most Iranians support dialogue with the United States. The state-run "Iran" newspaper said Behruz Geranpayeh has been charged with "fabricating news and spreading lies," and is awaiting trial in Tehran's Evin prison.

Geranpayeh's organization, the National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls, conducted a poll last month showing that some 74 percent of Iranians favor renewing talks with Iran's rival, the United States. The poll infuriated Iran's conservative leaders who reject any ties with Washington.

A reformist member of parliament, Ahmad Borqani, is also facing charges related to his role in setting up the institute, which has been ordered closed.

Reformists in President Mohammad Khatami's government have defended the poll.