(RFE/RL) -- The head of Iran's powerful judiciary has hinted at evidence linking opposition leaders to a seditious "plot" in an apparent escalation of the simmering dispute over June's presidential election.
"[W]e have enough proof about the leaders of this plot against the system," Reuters quoted judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani as saying in a report by official IRNA news agency.
The statement comes against a backdrop of mistrust and rancor highlighted by mutual allegations
over a torn portrait of the Iranian Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Antigovernment protests erupted again
last week after a period of uneasy calm, as opposition leaders seized on official observances of Students Day to show that reformists have not lost their resolve.
Government critics have expressed fears that authorities might seize on even the slightest of pretexts to order the arrest of senior opposition leaders, including failed presidential candidates Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi.
Such concerns have spilled over to the public protests that continue despite deaths, disappearances, and other forms of pressure, with demonstrators warning authorities against trying to detain either man.WATCH: YouTube video showing demonstrators at Iran's Elm o Sanat science and technology university chanting, "If Musavi gets arrested, it will be [an explosion] in Iran," purportedly on December 15:
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on political and religious matters under Iran's postrevolution constitution, has led a chorus of hard-liners denouncing critics of the vote as enemies of the state.
Both Karrubi and Musavi have deemed the June vote that was awarded to hard-liner President Mahmud Ahmadinejad illegitimate, and they have that the reform movement is alive and well despite the brutal crackdown.Musavi warned
of efforts "to take us back to the Inquisition era" amid mass trials of opposition sympathizers.
Defeated reformist candidate and cleric Mehdi Karrubi at a rally in Tehran three days after the disputed June vote.
While working to establish a broad Green Movement to harness anger over the presidential vote, Musavi has appeared to exercise caution to avoid actions or statements that might provide grounds for action by zealous prosecutors.
His careful approach has prompted some Iranians to question Musavi's preparedness to lead such a large-scale social movement. Karrubi
last week echoed Musavi's vow
that protests would continue to target the heavy-handed tactics of the current political leadership.written by Andy Heil in Prague from Radio Farda and wire reports