September 09, 2009

Iran Closes Office of Defeated Presidential Candidate

By Jessica Desvarieux

Iran's judiciary has shut down the office of defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi. The pro-reform cleric came in fourth place in the disputed June presidential election. But post-election he angered conservative hardliners over controversial claims that opposition protesters were abused and raped while detained in Iranian prisons.

Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi at Ghoba mosque in Tehran, Iran, 28 Jun 2009
The director of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, Ali Nourizadeh, spoke with a journalist from Karroubi's newspaper, National Trust, who was present when authorities entered.

"They came to the office and they beat some of the people who resisted. And they asked them to leave. But they beat them and then they sealed the office. They took everything away from there," Nourizadeh said.

But this is not the first time Karroubi has met government opposition. Last month, Iranian authorities temporarily banned his reformist newspaper for printing his rape accusations.

Iranian authorities deny the rape and abuse allegations in Iranian prisons, but authorities have ordered the closure of a detention center in Tehran.

Karroubi's office functioned as a headquarters to assist opposition protesters who had been allegedly tortured or raped. On his party's website this week, he said he submitted documents about abused detainees without revealing their identities.

A spokesman for Karroubi's party says Iranian authorities have confiscated files, disks and computers.

Nourizadeh says those who filed claims are very concerned.

"They are very concerned about all those file[s], about people who were tortured and raped so they wanted to keep their identity away from the authorit[ies]," he said.

Nourizadeh says Karroubi is a target because he has crossed the line drawn by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"They looked at Mr. Karroubi as somebody whom if they allowed him to continue to have a base, have place to distribute a statement, and to be interviewed. They thought that would be a danger to their authority," Nourizadeh said.

Iranian authorities have not commented on the opposition-office closure.

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September 9, 2009 12:08 AM

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