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Detained Iranian Opposition Leader 'Very Happy' About Nuclear Talks

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Mehdi Karroubi
Mehdi Karrubi has been under house arrest since 2011.

The son of opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi says his father is “very happy” about the course taken by Iranian President Hassan Rohani in nuclear negotiations with major powers aimed at finding a lasting agreement that would curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Karrubi’s elder son, Hossein Karrubi, made the comments in an interview with the Iranian news site Ensafnews.

He said authorities had allowed him and his brothers to visit their father, who has been under house arrest since February 2011, for three hours on March 21 to mark the Iranian New Year.

He said the visit, the first in four months, had taken place without the presence of security guards.

“Like the majority of society, [Mehdi] Karrubi is very happy about the course the government has taken in the nuclear negotiations by drawing a line over the wrong policies of the previous government,” Karrubi’s son was quoted as saying.

He added that his father, a former parliament speaker and defeated presidential candidate, wishes Iranian nuclear negotiators success.

Hossein Karrubi said his father is in good spirits despite the more than four years he’s spent under house arrest without being formally charged. Karrubi was reportedly transferred from a safe house to his own home last year, but remains under arrest.

Karrubi’s son criticized President Rohani for not paying attention to the plight of his father and fellow opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, who also remain under house arrest.

“Why is Rohani, as the head of [Iran’s] Supreme National Security Council, so inattentive to [those under house arrest]?” Hossein Karrubi asked.

“Two years into his presidency, shouldn't at least these meetings with their families take place naturally?”

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard
Opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard

When the more moderate Rohani came to power in 2013, many Iranians hoped that the three opposition figures could be freed.

A government spokesman suggested last year that Rohani is quietly pursuing their case.

However, hard-liners who are in control of key institutions have publicly spoken against their release.

Musavi, Rahnavard, and Karrubi were put under house arrest after their February 2011 call for a demonstration in solidarity with the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia attracted thousands of supporters.

Before their arrest, they had repeatedly accused the authorities of massive fraud in the 2009 reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad and postelection human rights abuses.

The three have reportedly refused to repent and said that they are ready for a public trial.

Copyright (c) 2015 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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