TEHRAN - An Iranian appeal court has upheld a one-year jail sentence handed down to one of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's close aides for insulting the country's supreme leader, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.

The ruling was the latest act in a high-level feud between Ahmadinejad and a group of hardline rivals who say he is in the grip of a "deviant current" of advisers trying to undermine the role of the clergy in the Islamic establishment.

The ruling was reported two days before a parliamentary election which, as most leading reformist parties have been banned, will be largely a contest between hardline conservative factions

"The president's media adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, has been sentenced to one year in prison and banned from engaging in political activities for five years for insulting the Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," Fars said.

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