August 31, 2006

Freed writer tells Iran agency: I was duped by U.S.

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A Canadian-Iranian writer freed after
four months in an Iranian jail for allegedly endangering state
security was quoted by an Iranian news agency on Thursday as
saying he had been duped into aiding U.S. organizations.

"I used to write articles about Iran and the Middle East in
some Web sites which I was not aware were linked to
intelligence services," Ramin Jahanbegloo, 46, told Iran's
student news agency ISNA shortly after his release on

"While in prison, I reached the conclusion that the
American organizations involved me in an affair which was not
my intention to get involved in," ISNA quoted him as saying.

He was not available for comment on Thursday. Several
dissidents have in the past made apparent confessions to
Iranian media during or after their detention.

Jahanbegloo was released from Iran's notorious Evin prison
on Wednesday. He was arrested at the end of April for having
contacts with foreigners and undermining state security.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned against a
"velvet revolution," a supposed U.S. plot to use intellectuals
and others inside the country to bring about "regime change."

A senior judiciary official was quoted as saying this month
that Jahanbegloo had confessed to trying to undermine the
Islamic Republic's system of clerical rule and had apologized.

"I have accepted the charge of acting against national
security ... but I did not know my activities were endangering
state security," Jahanbegloo told ISNA.

Jahanbegloo has worked and lectured on democracy in Iran
and how the Islamic Republic can engage with the West and has
written on the importance of acknowledging the Holocaust, which
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called a "myth."

According to ISNA, Jahanbegloo said many Iranian
intellectuals were in danger of being tricked into "acting
against national security" by "a network that was active

Jahanbegloo's case strained Iran's relations with Canada,
which have been icy since Canadian-Iranian photojournalist
Zahra Kazemi died in detention in Iran in 2003 after being
arrested for photographing Evin prison.

The European Union criticized Jahanbegloo's treatment and
Western diplomats said his detention was aimed at intimidating
and silencing critics.

"The first month (in detention) was very difficult for me,"
he told ISNA. "Then for three months I was in solitary cell,
with a television ... I was not under physical and
psychological pressure. But I would not wish anyone to
experience the same thing."

The philosopher, who has published some 20 books in
English, French and Farsi and interviewed several global
figures such as the Dalai Lama and linguist Noam Chomsky,
called on the establishment to provide support to

"Why was I attracted by such organizations? Why did I want
to get scholarships? As an intellectual, when you can't even
teach at (an Iranian) university, then you become attracted by
such offers," he said.