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Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media

Iranian reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh speaks to the media on May 14, 2021 after registering his candidacy for the Islamic Republic's presidential election in the capital Tehran
— Tehran (AFP)

Iran has put on trial the reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was previously jailed and arrested again last month accused of undermining state security, local media reported.

The 65-year-old -- who last year made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency as a reformist and "political prisoner for seven years" -- went on trial in Tehran on Saturday, said the judicial authority's news agency Mizan Online.

"Mostafa Tajzadeh's hearing was held at Branch 15 of Tehran's Revolutionary Court" before judge Abolghassem Salavati, it said.

Tajzadeh had served as deputy interior minister during the 1997-2005 tenure of reformist former president Mohammad Khatami.

He was arrested in 2009 during protests disputing the re-election of then president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, which was contested by an opposition backing unsuccessful reformist candidates Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Tajzadeh was convicted the following year of harming national security and propaganda against the state, and released in 2016 after serving his sentence.

Since his release, Tajzadeh has often called on authorities to free Mousavi and Karoubi, who have been under house arrest for more than a decade over the protests.

He submitted his candidacy in May 2021, having long campaigned for democratic and "structural changes" in the Islamic republic.

He was again arrested on July 8 this year at his home and also faces accusations of "publishing lies to disturb public opinion", the Mehr news agency has reported.

According to Mizan, Tajzadeh in court faced "three counts, including conspiracy against national security".

The defendant declined to speak in court, the report added.

His lawyer, Houshang Pourbabai, was quoted as telling the reformist newspaper Etemad that "three days ago, I went to Evin prison to meet my client with the permission of the court".

"My client refused to meet me because he could not talk to me face to face," he said, adding that Tajzadeh had also announced that he "would not appear in court".

Etemad quoted Tajzadeh's wife as saying the activist "was forced to appear in court against his will".

Mizan said that, "given Tajzadeh's refusal to answer questions, the judge announced that he would give his verdict within the legal time limit".

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