By ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
CAIRO, Egypt - Iran's judiciary has summoned dissident leader Akbar Ganji back to Evin Prison after releasing him on March 18 in what his lawyers said marked the end of his original sentence. But so far Mr. Ganji has refused to obey the requests from the prosecutors who originally threw him in jail.
His supporters said last night that Mr. Ganji would face new charges that have been threatened against him, and that he would certainly not leave Iran.
The fate of Mr. Ganji, who was jailed for attending a reform conference in Germany and publishing a book that accused top regime officials of playing a role in a string of political murders in the late 1990s, is intertwined with the liberal opposition movement of which he has emerged a leader.
A reformist author who was loyal to Ayatollah Khomeinei, Mr. Ganji has boldly broken with his old colleagues and in a series of open letters from jail last summer, he called on the supreme leader of Iran to step aside or run for elected office.
Inside the country, his cause has rallied support from both the student movements and ethnic minorities like the Iranian Kurds, who issued statements in solidarity with his hunger strike last July and August. Abroad, Mr. Ganji can count President Bush, the leaders of the European Union, Secretary-General Annan, and intellectuals from both right and left as his supporters.
Iran's official news service on Monday and Tuesday carried quotes from the deputy prosecutor for prison affairs, Mahmoud Salarkia, saying that Mr. Ganji was due back at Evin Prison on March 25, and that his original release, celebrated by his supporters as the end of his term, was in fact only a one-week leave granted to coincide with the Persian new year, Nowruz.
A lawyer for Mr. Ganji issued a statement on Monday saying: "Akbar Ganji has been released according to the laws and his presence outside of prison is not against the law, nor the regulations, and he is out of prison accordingly."
While Mr. Ganji has yet to be sentenced for additional crimes against the state, and his remaining jail time would be negligible, the regime nonetheless has threatened to bring new charges against him.