Surprising comments by the Iranian judiciary’s spokesman on August 20 have taken the case of reformist leader Mehdi Karrubi back to square one.
“Who said the security guards have left his [Karrubi’s] house? That’s a flagrant lie,” Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei told reporters. “Those who provoke such an argument in defence of those who protested against the 2005 presidential election should be prosecuted.”
The security guards, regardless of the alleged promises made to Karrubi, remain stationed outside his home. Furthermore, Ejei maintained, President Hassan Rouhani’s government is in no position to promise anything to those under house arrest.
Almost two weeks ago, Karrubi’s family announced that after two angiography operations the ailing opposition leader had received a pacemaker. On Saturday, Mr. Karrubi's son, Mohammad-Hossein, told Radio Farda that his father had undergone a second heart surgery to fix “an error” in the pacemaker.
In that interview, Mohammad-Hossein Karrubi said the administration of President Hassan Rouhani and his Intelligence Ministry promised to send home the security personnel stationed outside Karrubi’s house.
“We hope the administration will keep their word, otherwise we are definitely in for a lot of trouble,” the younger Karrubi warned.
Karrubi had begun his hunger strike following his pacemaker implant operation, demanding an open trial in a court of law and the removal of security agents from his residence.
He ended his strike after his son announced that promises had been made by health and intelligence officials after they visited his father at the hospital.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi told the official IRNA news agency that Rouhani had ordered the hospital visit and that Karrubi remained in stable condition.
Making matters a bit more complicated, the minister made no mention of any promises or concessions.
However, at his press conference on Sunday, Ejei turned the tables and insisted nothing had changed for the elderly Karrubi who, along with former PM Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, has been under house arrest for more than six years.
“These scene settings have no impact on us [the judiciary], and such propaganda might turn against those who believe their move is in his [Karrubi’s] favor,” he cautioned.
Earlier, Tehran MP and deputy parliamentary speaker Ali Motahari had urged Iranian decision makers to respond to the demands of Karrubi, an imprisoned leader of the Green Movement who was rushed to the hospital on August 16 after he began his hunger strike the day before.
“Tomorrow’s too late,” Motahari warned on Instagram.
“Karrubi’s hunger strike is a wake-up call for those who insist on the continuation of house arrests,” Iran’s Labor New Agency (ILNA) cited Motahari as saying. “[His] argument is based on logic. He says, ‘Let the law decide my fate. If I have committed a crime, let a competent court try me; whatever its verdict, I would accept it.’ ”
Motahari dismissed the arguments made by a number of security and intelligence officials that those under house arrest should repent before being freed.
“Such arguments have no logical basis since Karrubi has insisted he committed no crime and in fact had fallen victim to unjust decisions,” Motahari said. “Furthermore, if he had really committed a serious crime, disregarding the nation’s rights, how could he be forgiven by simply declaring remorse?”
Amnesty International said last month that it was "high time" Iranian authorities ended their "unjust treatment" of Karrubi, Mousavi, and Rahnavard.
"All three have been unjustly deprived of their liberty in a chilling illustration of Iran's zero-tolerance approach to political dissent," Magdalena Mughrabi, the watchdog's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a July 31 statement.
Some members of the Iranian Parliament have also joined the recent chorus demanding the release of Green Movement figureheads who have been under house arrest for more than six years.
“A special committee has been launched under the umbrella of the parliament’s reformist faction, Omid (Hope), to call for an end to the house arrests,” Gholamreza Heydari told the Iran Students News Agency on August 8.
Karrubi, 80, along with Mousavi, 75, and Rahnavard, 71, have been under house arrest since February 2011 without trial or a clear order by any Iranian authority.
Mousavi and Karrubi were both presidential candidates running against Mahmud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential elections. Official results gave Ahmadinejad the victory, which enraged the public and led to months of unrest and the deaths of dozens of protesters.
A few Iranian politicians, including Mr. Motahari, have announced that keeping the extrajudicial detention is the decision of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s constitution grants wide powers to the supreme leader, but according to Article 30, no one can be banished from his place of residence, prevented from residing in the place of his choice, or compelled to reside in a specific locality except in cases provided by the law.