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Iran: Dissident Cleric Calls For End To House Arrest

Tehran, 20 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's most senior dissident cleric today called on religious leaders to lift an arrest imposed on him for questioning the authority of Iran's supreme leader. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's statement was issued after Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, a reformist cleric, called on religious leaders in the holy city of Qom to intervene in lifting the arrest.

Montazeri, 81, has been under house arrest since November 1997, after he said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was not competent to issue rulings of a religious nature. In response, Khamenei accused Montazeri of treachery and imposed the arrest.

Last week, more than 100 Iranian legislators called on President Mohammad Khatami to lift the restrictions on the cleric, who is suffering from severe physical illness.