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Prominent Iranian Scholar Begins Serving Prison Term

Jailed Iranian scholar Ahmad Qabel
Jailed Iranian scholar Ahmad Qabel
Iranian religious scholar Ahmad Ghabel has begun his prison term for spreading antistate propaganda and insulting the supreme leader, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Ghabel's wife, Marzieh Pasdar, told Radio Farda that he was taken to Vakilabad prison in the north-eastern town of Mashad on July 31 following a summons to the Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office.

Ghabel was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Mashad in December 2010 to 20 months in prison on charges that included "spreading propaganda against the regime" and "insulting the supreme leader."

He was also banned for three years from granting interviews, and from delivering lectures to an audience of more than three persons.

In an interview with Radio Farda in June, Ghabel accused the Iranian leadership of "moral degeneration." He said top officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insist on lying.

Ghabel has been detained several times before, including in December 2009, while on his way to attend the funeral of senior dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. He was released on bail after spending nearly six months in Vakilabad prison.

Ghabel was also imprisoned in September 2010. His wife told Radio Farda at the time the reason for his detention was the information he had published about secret executions in Vakilabad prison.

Ghabel was arrested in 2001 after writing an open letter critical of Supreme Leader Khamenei and spent 125 days in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin prison.