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Iran Opposition Leaders Call For Protesters' Release


Mir Hossein Musavi
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iranian opposition leaders have urged the authorities to free those detained during postelection protests and criticized the "security state" imposed in Iran, presidential candidate Mir Hossein Musavi's website said.

"Mehdi Karrubi, Musavi, and [former President Mohammad] Khatami met on [July 6] and underlined the importance of ending the imposed security state in the country and also the immediate release of detained protesters," the website reported.

Musavi and Karrubi, moderate candidates in the June 12 presidential election, have denounced the result of the poll, which saw hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad re-elected.

Iran's most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has upheld the result.

The opposition leaders also said arrests, which began on June 13, should stop.

"The continuation of arrests and the security state will lead to a more radicalized political atmosphere," they said, adding that the "wave of arrests should end."

'Rein Them In'

Iranian state media have reported 20 people killed in protests since the election. Authorities say more than 1,000 people were arrested during the demonstrations in Tehran, although most have been released.

Human rights activists say 2,000 people, including opposition leaders, academics, journalists, and students, may still be held.

Iranian authorities say opposition leaders are responsible for any bloodshed. The opposition leaders accused the Islamic militia of violence against protesters and urged the authorities "to rein them in."

The Basij militia is affiliated to the elite Revolutionary Guards, and was accused by the protesters of brutally repressing post-election demonstrations. The authorities deny any Basij involvement in the death of protesters.

"In the meeting, cases of brutal attacks by people in plainclothes, backed by the security forces, on protesters were discussed and strongly condemned," said the website.

Musavi has called on his supporters to maintain "calm and self-restraint."

"Respecting legal frameworks is extremely important for us. We should show our protest in a lawful way," his website quoted Musavi as saying in another meeting on July 6.

Iranian authorities accuse the West, particularly the United States and Britain, of inciting unrest in the country following the election, which led to the most widespread street protests in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.