The head of Iran’s judiciary, ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, indirectly attacked President Hassan Rouhani for his calls to free the three opposition leaders who are under house arrest since 2011.
Larijani, who is a conservative and close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, in a meeting of high level judicial officials said that the presidential candidates sometimes brought up issues during the campaign that are outside their purview. As an example, he mentioned the demand to end the house arrest of Mir Hossein Moussavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi. He did not name president Rouhani as the candidate who voiced this demand, but in a sharp rebuke added, “Who are you to try to end the house arrests?”
Moussavi and Karroubi were presidential candidates in the 2009 election, when the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was swiftly declared the winner leaving many voters convinced that the election results were manipulated. This led to the worst unrest the Islamic Republic had ever witnessed, with millions of people protesting in the streets. Security forces responded in force and dozens were killed and hundreds arrested, in what became known as the Green Movement.
Moussavi and Karroubi continued to reject Ahmadinejad’s re-election and remained defiant until in 2011 they were put under house arrest.
President Rouhani in his election campaign called for an end to their house arrests; a demand that often was well received by voters who were chanting slogans for the release of the Green Movement leaders.
In his remarks Larijani reiterated that the house arrests were the decision of the National Security Council and if the council changes its decision in the future, then the judiciary will deal with the issue.
The Iranian authorities call the protests of 2009 “sedition” and consider the issue of the Green Movement leaders a matter of national security. The three detainees have never been charged officially and have no legal defense.