Sun, Feb 27, 2011 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Iran: Growing Demands to Put Opposition Leaders to Trial
In the past week, there have been growing demands to put the reformist opposition leaders to trial following the reformist opposition demonstrations held last Monday and amidst the more recent demonstrations held Sunday, February 20.
Last Friday, Guardian Council chairman Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati called on the judiciary to take measures against the leaders of the reformist opposition. In his Friday sermon, the senior cleric claimed that the leaders of “incitement” have lost their prestige and standing in society, and that they are now despised by the Iranian people. He said that they have to be cut off from the public and confined to their residences. He called to impose restrictions on their freedom of movement and cut off their communications lines to keep them from contacting their supporters (Fars, February 18).
Judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani warned the opposition leaders this week that the regime’s patience towards them is wearing thin. Speaking at a conference of top judiciary officials, Larijani said that the opposition leaders have strayed from the path of the revolution, that their actions are anti-revolutionary, and that they should know that in addition to the public trial they are facing, the judiciary also carries responsibility to handle their case in accordance with the law. In an interview to Iranian TV, Ebrahim Ra’isi, Larijani’s deputy, also said that the judiciary intends to take strong measures against the opposition leaders, whom he accused of treason.
In demonstrations held in Tehran and some other cities last Friday (February 18), thousands of pro-regime demonstrators called to prosecute and even execute the opposition leaders.
The conservative press also joined in the attack against the opposition leaders. The daily Keyhan referred to them as “the greatest criminals in the history of Iran”. An editorial published by the daily earlier this week says that the opposition leaders obviously need to be put to trial. Their prosecution is the most important legal case since the Islamic revolution, and the sooner the judiciary takes the case, the better. Not only did the opposition leaders, who acted in the service of American, Israeli, and British intelligence organizations, compromise national security and violate public order, but they also gave hope to Iran’s enemies. In their actions, they gave Iran’s enemies the opportunity to work against it, assassinate its nuclear scientists, and step up anti-Iranian sanctions. They should therefore be prosecuted, and their crimes exposed (Keyhan, February 19).
Tehran Emrouz, a daily associated with Tehran’s mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, also accused the reformist opposition of treason. The opposition leaders gave the West an opportunity to achieve its propaganda aims against Iran and cast doubt over the public support of the Islamic regime. Their actions should be construed as high treason against the Iranian people and the regime, being the basis for the demand to put the traitors to trial and expose their true nature for the public to see (Tehran Emrouz, February 19). In another article published by the daily, the opposition leaders were referred to as the “new Khawarij”, a term used to refer to the first religious opposition in Islam, formed after a group of Muslims seceded from the camp of Ali bin Abi Talib, the fourth caliph, in 657 AD (Tehran Emrouz, February 20).
Meanwhile, the ultra-conservative website Raja News claimed this week that, prior to the Islamic revolution, Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard had collaborated with the SAVAK, the Shah’s intelligence and security organization. A commentary article published by the website says that there is evidence to suggest that the couple had contacts with SAVAK agents. The website further claimed that Mousavi had contacts with one of the leaders of Mojahedin-e Khalq, an opposition organization, and that the Mousavis traveled to the U.S. in 1977 for purposes of permanent immigration, deciding to return to Iran during the outbreak of the Islamic revolution. The website also accused Mousavi of opportunism and political flip-flopping, strongly criticizing his policy as prime minister of Iran in the ‘80s (Raja News, February 19).
The two opposition leaders, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, have remained under house arrest this week and were denied any contact with the outside world. Saham News, a website affiliated with Karoubi’s supporters, reported this week that on Monday night, about 30 people assaulted his residence, smashed the windows, and threw fragmentation grenades into the house (Saham News, February 21). In addition, security forces raided Karoubi’s residence and confiscated books and documents. One of Karoubi’s sons, Ali, was arrested this week together with his wife. Security forces also wanted to arrest Karoubi’s elder son, Hussein, but were unable to do so as he was not present at his residence at the time (Saham News, February 22).