x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iranian opposition leader transferred to house arrest

After three-years in a state-supervised apartment, Mehdi Karrubi, was allowed to move home because of deteriorating health.

Mehdi Karrubi was detained for three years at a safe house for orchestrating anti-government protests in 2009. Behrouz Mehri / AFP
Mehdi Karrubi was detained for three years at a safe house for orchestrating anti-government protests in 2009. Behrouz Mehri / AFP

An Iranian opposition leader incarcerated for heading protests challenging Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 re-election as president, has been transferred to house arrest after spending three years in a state-supervised apartment, his son said.

Mehdi Karrubi, who accused Mr Ahmadinejad of fraudulently winning a second term, will be monitored by security forces living in an adjacent apartment, opposition website sahamnews.org said, citing his son Mohammad Hossein Karrubi.

“Contrary to claims by judiciary and political officials of the Islamic Republic that Karrubi had been held under house arrest in his own home, he was transferred there hours ago,” the report cited Mr Karrubi’s son as saying. It said the family had sought the transfer for two years because his health had deteriorated.

The fates of Mr Karrubi and fellow opposition leader and ex- presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, also detained in 2011, will be a barometer of how far Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be able to go in delivering election promises of greater liberties. Supporters of Mr Mousavi and Mr Karrubi helped propel Mr Rouhani to victory in June elections.

Both opposition leaders are in their 70s and were accused by Iranian officials of stoking unrest under an alleged Western- backed plan to topple the leadership of the Islamic Republic. Neither has been tried.

Mr Karrubi is ready to stand trial and “won’t protest, no matter what the sentence,” his son quoted him as saying. His sole request is to have a public trial so his defence can be published in the media, he said.

In a July address, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded an apology from the two men, whose names are rarely mentioned in Iranian media.

Since Mr Rouhani’s election, some restrictions have been eased. Some political prisoners have been released, and the government has shown increased tolerance toward the media.

* Bloomberg