Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Lawyer Says Reformers Held On Security Charges

Mohammad Ali Abtahi
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Several leading reformists detained after last month's disputed presidential election have been accused of acting against national security, a Iranian lawyer has said.

Saleh Nikbakht said he was the lawyer for prominent figures including former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, and a former senior member of parliament, Mohsen Mirdamadi.

They held their positions under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, who was in office in 1997-2005, and supported the campaigns of defeated moderate candidates in the June 12 vote, which was won by hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

"I am the lawyer of about 12 journalists and political activists who were detained recently...their general charge is acting against national security," Nikbakht told Reuters.

"I have not met any of my clients yet," he said, adding the cases were still at a preliminary stage.

Other leading reformers he said he represented included Mostafa Tajzadeh and Behzad Nabavi.

"If the charges are proven, then the cases will be referred to revolutionary courts after the preliminary investigation," Nikbakht said. "Interrogations are under way by the Intelligence Ministry or at the courts and it is not clear where they are."

Ahmadinejad's main moderate challenger in the election, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi, on July 1 called on the authorities to release detained "children of the revolution," in reference to scores of reformists arrested since the poll.

The other defeated moderate candidate, cleric Mehdi Karrubi, has denounced the arrests as illegal, the website of his newspaper "Etemad-e Melli" said on July 4.

Musavi and Karrubi say the election was rigged in favor of the hard-line incumbent.

The authorities reject the charge, saying it was the "healthiest" election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

They have portrayed mass pro-Musavi protests, which erupted after the release of official results showing Ahmadinejad had won the vote by a landslide, as the work of local subversives and foreign powers, especially Britain.

It was not immediately clear what likely penalties those accused might face. The charge of acting against national security is a common charge against dissenting voices in Iran.