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Iran: Four Student Leaders Arrested After Protests

Tehran, 26 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Judiciary officials in Iran have started arresting student leaders who organized the country's largest pro-reform protests in three years. A deputy governor of Tehran, Ebrahim Rezai Babadi, told the ISNA student news agency that five student leaders were arrested today, and more arrests are expected.

Also today, the prosecution that sparked the protests -- the imposition of a death sentence on a prominent academic -- is hardening. Chief Prosecutor Abdol-Nabi Namazi said the verdict against Hashem Aghajari for blasphemy will be final unless he appeals the court decision by 3 December. Aghajari's lawyer, Saleh Nikhbakht, said his client is still refusing to appeal.

Students held two weeks of almost daily class boycotts and rallies to call for freedom of speech and major political reforms, but the universities have been calmer in recent days.