Iran Opposition Leader’s Aide Is Freed –

September 14, 2009
Iran Opposition Leader’s Aide Is Freed
TORONTO – The main Iranian opposition leader’s top aide, who was arrested
last week because of his investigations into the abuse of prisoners in the
crackdown after the disputed election, has been released in what appears to
be a sign of retreat by the hard-core conservative authorities running Iran.

The release of the aide, Alireza Hosseini-Beheshti, was reported Sunday by
the semiofficial ILNA news agency. He is a highly regarded academic with
Islamic revolutionary credentials who worked directly under the opposition
leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi.

No explanation for the release was given. However, an Iranian source close
to Mr. Moussavi, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution,
said Mr. Beheshti’s freedom was secured only after immense pressure by
senior politicians.

Mr. Beheshti’s arrest had seemed to illustrate the length the government was
willing to go to silence its opposition. His father, Mohammad Beheshti, who
was killed in an explosion in 1981, was one of the main architects of the
۱۹۷۹ Islamic Revolution and the country’s Constitution.

Along with other signs of intolerance by Iran’s authorities after the
election, Mr. Beheshti’s arrest had led to speculation that Mr. Moussavi and
another top opposition figure, Mehdi Karroubi, would be arrested.

Both ran in the June 12 election and have asserted that the incumbent,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, won by fraud.

In what appeared to be a sign of support for Mr. Beheshti from other veteran
figures, Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the
founder of the 1979 revolution, visited Mr. Beheshti at his home after his
release on Saturday, ILNA reported.

Mr. Beheshti was the head of one of the two committees that investigated the
torture allegations of detainees during the post-election protests.

The other committee was led by Mr. Karroubi, who has charged that prisoners
were raped and sodomized.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, referred to their allegations
on Friday as “lies and rumors,” and he warned that the system would respond
harshly “to those who challenged its principles.”

On Saturday a judicial panel ruled that the allegations of rape were
baseless and that Mr. Karroubi’s proof was fabricated. However, the panel
also said the government’s measures to extinguish criticism have alienated
many influential religious and political figures.

A source close to Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful politician whose
family supported Mr. Moussavi’s campaign, on Sunday corroborated reports
that Mr. Rafsanjani threatened to resign his posts a few weeks ago after
Ayatollah Khamenei issued an order for Mr. Karroubi’s arrest.

It remains unclear why that order was never carried out, but it may reflect
a continuing power struggle between Ayatollah Khamenei and Mr. Rafsanjani,
who is the head of the Council of Experts, which has the legal power to
dismiss the supreme leader.

Several Iranian Web sites sympathetic to Mr. Moussavi, including, reported last week that Hussein Nouri Hamedani, the only
senior cleric to have congratulated Mr. Ahmadinejad, had expressed regret
and had said he was “tricked” by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters.

Senior clerics in Iran’s holy city of Qum have historically given religious
legitimacy to the government. Mohsen Kadivar, a senior cleric and a visiting
professor at Duke University, who has ties with clerics in Qum, said that
the number of clerics who were withdrawing their support for the government
was increasing.

“We have the progressive clerics who have criticized the post-election
events and openly sided with the protesters,” he said. “But some of the more
conservative ones have also shifted their support and have stayed away from
government ceremonies in a sign of protest.”

It is possible that the government is delaying Mr. Karroubi’s arrest until
after this Friday, the date of Iran’s annual pro-Palestinian rally, to avoid
further tension. Protesters and opposition leaders, including Mr. Karroubi,
have said that they will use the occasion to hold antigovernment street