Iran intensified its crackdown on opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi, with the arrest of staff at his newspaper and vitriolic attacks from the hardline press on Wednesday after he vowed to press on with his campaign against the disputed presidential election.
The latest action came amid rising tensions between Iran and the West after US President Barack Obama raised questions about the legitimacy of the election and expressed outrage over the violence against on opposition protesters.
Iran has refused to overturn the results of the poll that returned hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, but supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has extended by five days a Wednesday deadline to examine vote complaints.
Khamenei declared that the election result would stand.
“I had insisted and will insist on implementing the law on the election issue,” Khamenei said. “Neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost.”
Rezai withdraws vote complaints
Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai withdrew complaints made to the country’s electoral watchdog about the disputed presidential election, IRNA news agency said on Wednesday.
It is seen as a blow to to the opposition which has staged almost daily demonstrations since the June 12 vote.
Mousavi, who was prime minister in the post-revolution era, has urged supporters to keep demonstrating but to adopt “self-restraint” to avoid further bloodshed while another defeated candidate Mehdi Karroubi called for a mourning ceremony on Thursday for slain protesters.
Police have arrested 25 journalists and other staff at Mousavi’s Kalemeh Sabz (Green Word) newspaper —which was shut down about 10 days ago — one of its editors said on Wednesday.
Intelligence police said they had found “evidence of a plot against national security” at a candidate’s campaign office used for “psychological warfare,” the official IRNA news agency said, without identifying the candidate.
“Who is responsible for the week-long crime in Tehran?” charged pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Vatan Emrouz above a front-page picture of Mousavi, who has continued to challenge what he says was a rigged vote.