November 24, 2005

awarded France's annual human rights

LONDON, November 23 (IranMania) - Iranian human rights campaigner Emaddedin Baghi, who heads the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners' Rights, has been awarded France's annual human rights prize, French authorities said, according to AFP.

"I was given the prize for my activities for prisoners as well creating an atmosphere to challenge the death penalty," Baghi told AFP.

"The prize can motivate human rights activists in that their efforts are not hidden from the outside world."

France's National Advisory Commission on Human Rights said that Baghi and four co-laureates would be handed the prize from Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on December 12.

"I do not think it's a political prize because we do not have a hardline or radical stance," Baghi said.

The dissident has had frequent run-ins with Iran's clerical regime.

In 2000 Baghi was jailed for three years for his writings in several pro-reform newspapers. The writings included arguments against the death penalty, which is widely used in the Islamic republic.

After his release he was again handed a one-year prison sentence for "propagating against the regime" and having links with opposition groups, although this sentence has not yet been applied.

Last year he was also prevented from leaving Iran for Europe and the United States to receive a 50,000 dollar Civil Courage prize in New York as well as to meet European Union officials working on human rights.

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