Brother of Iran's supreme leader summoned to court, fined

TEHRAN, Iran - The younger brother of Iran's supreme leader has been summoned to court on charges related to the reformist newspaper he launched in June, his aide said Monday.

The summons order for Hadi Khamenei was the third issued by the Special Clergy Court since the Hayat-e-Nou newspaper debuted, the aide, Abbas Safaifar, told The Associated Press. He did not say when the order was issued or provide details of the charges.

''Mr. Khamenei has been summoned on press-related charges but he has not yet made a decision whether to attend,'' said Safaifar.

He said Khamenei had not personally appeared in court after the two previous summons.

Hadi Khamenei is opposed to his brother, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is a conservative. He was summoned by the Special Clergy Court because he is a cleric.

Many reformists say the court is unconstitutional and argue that press offenses should be heard at the press court, regardless whether the newspaper's director is a cleric.

Khamenei's newspaper was the only reformist newspaper to escape a media crackdown by the hard-line judiciary that has shut down 24 pro-reform papers in the past four months.

''Summoning Khamenei means hard-liners see no limit for undermining reforms. They are making maximum misuse of their powers at the judiciary to target elements of reforms,'' said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a Tehran University professor and political analyst.

Meanwhile, the hard-line daily Kayhan said parliament Vice Speaker Behzad Nabavi, the reformists' spokesman, has been fined $125 on charges of spreading lies, libel and propagating against a rival candidate during the February legislative polls.

Kayhan also said Alamdar Adibi, head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front in southwestern Andimeshk, had been sentenced to four months in prison, 20 lashes and a fine of $150 after he was found guilty of libel, spreading lies and propagating against a hard-line candidate.

The newspaper said Nabavi and Adibi were sentenced by a Tehran court. It did not say when, but added that Nabavi was only fined because of his ''special condition'' as vice speaker.

There was no independent or official confirmation of the Kayhan report.

Hard-liners, who control the judiciary, broadcast media and the military, oppose President Mohammad Khatami's reform program as incompatible with the country's Islamic principles.

They have closed down 24 reformist publications and arrested more than two dozen writers and political activists since April.

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