Iran media says foreign journalists released from custody

By Thomas Erdbrink
Saturday, November 7, 2009; 12:58 PM

TEHRAN -- Iran's judiciary has freed three foreign nationals who were arrested Wednesday during demonstrations on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover here, state-run media reported Saturday.

"Three foreign nationals, one Canadian and two Germans . . . have been freed," the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Tehran's prosecutor general, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, as saying late Friday.

An Iranian reporter arrested while covering the rally for Agence France-Presse has also been released, according to the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency had reported Friday that three foreign reporters -- one Japanese and two Canadians -- were arrested Wednesday and charged with "unauthorized reporting." It was unclear Saturday whether a Japanese journalist was being held.

During a rally Wednesday commemorating the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy, anti-government demonstrators gathered to protest against the government, which they call illegitimate. The confrontation led to clashes between security forces and protesters in the center of the capital.

Foreign journalists were ordered to report only from the official demonstration.

Iranian officials have often accused Western media of organizing and promoting protests. Foreign journalists are largely barred from the country since several demonstrations and riots following Iran's disputed June presidential election.

More than 100 people were arrested during the protests Wednesday, state media reported. "Some 62 of the detainees were jailed and the rest were released," said Azizollah Rajabzadeh, head of Tehran police, IRNA reported Friday.

According to the prosecutor, a Danish student was among those detained.

"We have asked the relevant authorities to present us with documents explaining the purposes of his presence and his mission in Iran," he said. "The required measures will be taken after receiving the documents."

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