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Why Is Iran Not Arresting The Leaders Of The 'Sedition'?

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Iran's Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi

From a Q&A by "a reporter" in Tehran with Iran's Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi:

Q: With regard to the massive campaign by foreign media, do you expect street riots on the anniversary of last year's presidential vote?

Moslehi: The condition of the sedition movement after the crackdown is not such for it to accomplish such a move.

Q. What measures will you take regarding the arrest of the leaders of the sedition?

We follow the policies of the establishment in that regard.

The "sedition" is a term Iranian officials use to describe last year's street protests over the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. And when officials speak about sedition leaders, they're usually referring to former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, reformist cleric Mehdi Karoubi, and former President Mohammad Khatami.

Mir Hossein Mousavi

Mohammd Khatami

Mehdi Karoubi

Last week, 175 members of the Iranian parliament issued a letter to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, calling for the trial of the "sedition leaders" ahead of the first anniversary of last year's presidential vote.

Larijani responded by saying the letter interfered in the work of the judiciary.

"We know [our job]," Larijani said, adding that the judiciary "has no fear of confronting the heads of the sedition."

He said the judiciary follows the main policies of the establishment. He also said he wouldn't do anything that would go against the views of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last week, a top official in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Mojtaba Zolnour, also said the establishment is capable of confronting the leaders of the sedition but added that the timing is important.

"There is astuteness in not arresting these gentlemen so that they become politically dead. Arresting them will turn them into heroes," Zolnour said.

The comments seem to suggest that despite growing pressure on opposition leaders -- particularly Musavi -- the Islamic establishment believes it is not in its interest to arrest them.

Yet things might change as we approach the anniversary of the June 12 vote and the street protests that shook the Iranian establishment to its core.


Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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