TEHRAN: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has rallied for more freedom of speech in his country, saying government critics should not be imprisoned.

Rouhani says that "critics should not be detained, critics should not be sent to jail". He spoke at the annual Tehran International Book Fair on Tuesday.

The remarks, which underscored Rouhani's 2013 election promises of reform in Iran, came after weekend parliamentary runoff elections in which a moderate-reformist bloc supporting the president secured the biggest faction of seats in the 290-seat chamber.

But Rouhani also assailed those whose texts involve "lying, blaming and weakening the power of the nation".

In April, Iran's judiciary sentenced four pro-reform journalists to prison terms ranging from 5 to 10 years after convicting them on charges of acting against national security.

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