Dubai TV reporter is freed from Iranian jail

Iranian authorities release a Dubai TV reporter who was detained two weeks ago during clashes between government and protesters.

Iranian authorities have released a Dubai TV reporter who was detained two weeks ago during clashes between government and protesters. The release of Reza al Basha was confirmed last night by Ahmed al Sheikh, the managing director of Dubai Media Incorporated. "The release of al Basha, a 27-year-old Syrian journalist, came following a series of frequent contacts made over the past days with the Iranian authorities concerned especially the Foreign Press Bureau at the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance," Mr al Sheikh said, according to WAM, the state news agency.

Mr al Basha, who was accredited to work in Tehran by Dubai TV, was allowed to return to his family there yesterday. According to colleagues, he is in good condition. "A friend of mine from work spoke to him and he said that he is well," one colleague said. "It seems that he is OK." He said Mr al Basha wished to be left alone to be with his family. Mr al Basha was detained while covering violent confrontations with protesters.

He was one of 300 people arrested on Ashura, a day of mourning for Shiites. The day, December 27, was one of the bloodiest since demonstrations erupted following June's disputed presidential election. A website run by opposition leaders, called Rahesaz, claims that more than 180 people were arrested following the Ashura protests, including 17 journalists and 10 aides to the unsuccessful presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Analysts fear the situation in Iran is becoming more volatile as the regime uses stronger tactics to quell protesters who believe the elections were rigged against Mr Mousavi. At least eight people died in harsh reactions to the Ashura protests, including Mr Mousavi's nephew. As protests have grown and become more violent, Mr Mousavi has called for the right to demonstrate, the release of political prisoners and the recognition of press freedoms.

In addition to Mr al Basha, a Swedish diplomat was also arrested in the clampdown, according to Reuters, but was released within a day. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran's chief prosecutor, said five detainees were members of the exiled People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran. * With files from Reuters