Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is speaking out in defense of a close aide whom authorities have barred from running in next month's presidential election.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, joins hands with his close ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as he flashes a victory sign, at the start of a press conference, May 11, 2013.
Iran's interior ministry said Tuesday the Guardian Council of clerics and jurists excluded Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani from the list of approved candidates.
Ahmadinejad described Mashaei on Wednesday as righteous, capable and beneficial for the country, and said the aide is a victim of injustice.
The president pledged in comments on his website to take up the issue with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and he expressed hope it will be resolved.
Ahmadinejad and his aides have fallen out of favor with ultraconservatives in Iran after years of power struggles with the country's ruling clerics.
Ultraconservatives loyal to Ayatollah Khamenei strongly opposed the potential candidacies of both Mashaei and Rafsanjani. Loyalists dominate the list of eight approved candidates.
Iran's constitution bars Ahmadinejad from seeking a third term in office.
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