Freed writer tells Iran agency: I was duped by U.S.

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A Canadian-Iranian writer freed after four months in an Iranian jail for allegedly endangering state security was quoted by an Iranian news agency on Thursday as saying he had been duped into aiding U.S. organisations.

"I used to write articles about Iran bband the Middle East in some Web sites which I was not aware were linked to intelligence services," Ramin Jahanbegloo, 46, told Iran's student news agency ISNA shortly after his release on Wednesday.

"While in prison, I reached the conclusion that the American organisations involved me in an affair which it was not my intention to get involved in," ISNA quoted him as saying.

He was not available for comment on Thursday. Several dissidents have in the past made apparent confessions to Iranian media during or after their detention.

Jahanbegloo was released from Iran's notorious Evin prison on Wednesday. He was arrested at the end of April for having contacts with foreigners and undermining state security.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has wbarned against a "velvet revolution," a supposed U.S. plot to use intellectuals and others inside the country to bring about "regime change."

A senior judiciary official was quoted as saying this month that Jahanbegloo had confessed to trying to undermine the Islamic Republic's system of clerical rule and had apologized.

"I have accepted the charge of acting against national security ... but I did not know my activities were endangering state security," Jahanbegloo told ISNA.

Jahanbegloo, author of some 20 books, has lectured on democracy in Iran and how Tehran can engage with the West. He has written on the importance of acknowledging the Holocaust, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hasb

ISNA quoted Jahanbegloo as saying many Iranian intellectuals were in danger of being tricked into "acting against national security" by "a network that was active overseas."

Jahanbegloo's case strained Iran's relations with Canada, which have been icy since Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in detention in Iran in 2003 after being arrested for photographing Evin prison.

Western diplomats said Jahanbegloo's detention was aimed abt intimidating and silencing critics.

The European Union, which had criticized Jahanbegloo's treatment, welcomed his release and urged Iran to free "all human rights defenders."

"The Presidency expects that Professor Jahanbegloo can continue his personal life and exercise his profession without any harassment," said a statement by Finland, current holder of the European Union's rotating presidency.

Jahanbegloo said he was not put under pressure to speak.

"The first month (in detention) was very difficult for me," he told ISNA. Then for three months I was in a solitary cell, with a television ... I was not under physical and psychological pressure. But I would not wish anyone to experience the same thing."

"Why was I attracted by such organisations? Why did I want to get scholarships? As an intellectual, when you can't even teach at (an Iranian) university, then you become attracted by such offers," he said.

(Additional reporting by Mark John in Brussels)

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