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DATE=8/5/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN/ARREST (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-265172 BYLINE=LISA BRYANT DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Iranian police have arrested a prominent pro- reform cleric, hours after he returned to Tehran from Paris. From Cairo, Lisa Bryant reports cleric Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari's arrest appears to be part of an ongoing crackdown against Iranian moderates. TEXT: Iran's official news agency says Mr. Eshkevari was taken into custody shortly after his return to Tehran Saturday following an extended stay in France. The Muslim cleric reportedly is accused of acting against national security. He is also charged with defaming the state and the Islamic religion. /// OPT /// According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, Mr. Eshkevari was greeted by about 100 cheering supporters when he arrived at the Tehran airport a few hours before his arrest. /// END OPT /// Earlier this year, Mr. Eshkevari was among the Iranian participants at a conference held in Germany to discuss Iranian reforms. Iranian conservatives harshly criticized the meeting. Other conference participants have since faced similar charges of defaming the state. Mr. Eshkevari's arrest could be connected to a recent crackdown by the country's hard-line judiciary. The cleric is editor of a monthly magazine that was among some 20 pro-reform publication banned so far this year. Iranian newspapers and television stations are now largely dominated by conservatives. Seven journalists have been jailed in recent months. However Iran's new parliament -- with moderates making up about 70 percent of the 290 seats -- is expected to begin debating the press law on Sunday. Reformist lawmakers say restoring a free press in Iran is a top legislative priority. (SIGNED) NEB/LB/DW/JP 05-Aug-2000 12:12 PM LOC (05-Aug-2000 1612 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .