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Iran begins fourth mass trial of election protesters and reformists

[JURIST] Iran on Tuesday began the trials of more reformers accused of attempting to overthrow the government in a "velvet revolution" following the disputed June 12 presidential election [JURIST news archive]. This trial is the fourth [ILNA report] of its kind to occur since reformists, protesters, and journalists were arrested during the widespread demonstrations that took place in the weeks following the election. Notable among the reformists who went on trial Tuesday are Saeed Hajjarian [NYT report], a former hero of the 1979 Revolution turned reformer, and Kian Tajbakhsh [advocacy website], an Iranian-American who worked for the Soros Foundation in Iran. Hajjarian, who served as an aide to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami [BBC profile], confessed to being a communist and attempting to overthrow the government. Khatami has denounced [ILNA report] Hajjarian's confession. Tajbakhsh is accused of espionage for the US. All those on trial - more than 100 in this round - have allegedly been held for months without access to lawyers or family members.

Last week, Iran began the trial of 25 election protesters [JURIST report], after putting more than 100 on trial [JURIST reports] earlier this month. Iran has been experiencing turmoil in Tehran and elsewhere since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was declared the winner of the disputed June 12 election. Ahmadinejad was recently sworn in for a second term. Earlier in August, three UN human rights experts called on Iran's Revolutionary Court to reject protesters' confessions obtained through torture [JURIST report]. Also this month, Iran's Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi acknowledged [JURIST report] that some protesters arrested after the election were tortured. Human rights groups have called arrests political repression [JURIST report], saying that Iranian forces are using the protests to "engage in what appears to be a major purge of reform-oriented individuals." Last month, Iran released [JURIST report] some 140 detainees.

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