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Iran: Jailed Leading Reformist Nuri Pardoned

Tehran, 5 November 2002 (RFE/RL) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pardoned Abdullah Nuri, a jailed former interior minister and close ally of reformist President Mohammad Khatami. Nuri's pardon is reported by IRNA news agency. It follows the sudden death of his brother Ali Reza Nuri, a reformist parliamentarian killed in a car crash last week.

An aide to Nuri said parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi asked for the pardon, which is being seen as a boost for Iran's embattled reformist movement.

Nuri is viewed as a potential leader of the reformist movement. He was sentenced to five years in 2000 for a range of charges including propaganda against the Islamic system and insulting the founding father of Iran's Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In other news, Iran's parliament, the Majlis, opened debate today on legislation to strip the conservative Guardians Council of the power to approve or veto candidates for public office.

Reformist allies of President Khatami are seeking to push through the measure before muncipal, legislative, and presidential elections scheduled over the next three years.

The reformers also are seeking legislation to empower Khatami to suspend judicial rulings he finds unconstitutional.

Khatami has said the measures would enable him to keep the promise of greater democracy in Iran that he made to the people who voted him in as president by wide margins in 1997 and 2001.

Conservative opponents say Khatami is seeking to amass dictatorial powers by underming the clerical hierarchy that filters legislation.