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Iranian Labor Activist Released From Prison

Said Torabian (file photo)
A spokesman for Tehran's municipal bus-service union has been released from prison on bail, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Said Torabian, who had been held at Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, was released on July 20. He was detained by authorities on June 9.

His release comes days after the Tehran bus drivers' union issued a statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Torabian and three other bus drivers' union leaders: Reza Shahabi, Ebrahim Madadi, and Mansur Osanlu.

A statement issued by the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company on July 17 expressed particular concern about the health of Torabian. It said the union spokesman, who suffers from a heart condition, had not been able to contact his family since his arrest.

The statement states that labor activists have come under increasing pressure in recent months.

"Since the opening of the union five years ago, its members and their families have faced severe pressure, including arrests, threats, dismissal from work, and deprivation of their social and medical rights," it reads.

Bus drivers' union leader Mansur Osanlu is serving a five-year prison term after being arrested in July 2007.

According to the union, the Iranian government had pledged at a recent International Labor Organization conference to release Osanlu. But he is now being charged with more crimes.

On July 18, an Iranian revolutionary court in Karaj charged Osanlu with "spreading propaganda against the regime." It is the same charge brought against him in 2007.

The statement said that the municipal bus drivers' union will continue to fight for workers' rights despite ongoing government pressure. The union appealed for further support from human rights groups and labor unions, especially the International Transport Workers' Federation.