The spokesman of Iran’s judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, has told the media that the house arrests of opposition leaders will not be lifted.
While admitting that he was not present at latest the Supreme National Security Council’s (SNSC) session, Ejei said, “Based on what I’ve heard, at the recent session of the SNSC it was decided that the house arrests should continue as is." He was speaking at a press conference on September 3.
The legality of keeping former speaker of the parliament Mehdi Karroubi, 80, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, 75, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, 71, under house arrest has in recent years turned into a bone of contention between President Hassan Rouhani’s administration and the judiciary.
Karroubi and Mousavi were Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s main challengers in the 2009 presidential election. Ahmadinejad was officially declared the winner but the challengers protested the outcome, calling it an “engineered result."
Their protest led to more than five months of demonstrations, met with a harsh crackdown that left several killed and hundreds imprisoned.
Later, in February 2011, the Mousavis and Karroubi were confined to their houses after they called for street demonstrations in solidarity with the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia.
The judiciary asserts that, based on the SNSC’s resolution, the trio are under house arrest, whereas Rouhani, who also presides over the SNSC, has repeatedly denied the existence of such a resolution.
Nevertheless, the judiciary spokesman reiterated, “SNSC resolution 544 explicitly requires the Intelligence Ministry to sustain the house arrests under the judiciary’s supervision."
However, earlier on August 29, the government’s spokesman, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, had referred to several discussions about the house arrests'case at various sessions.
According to Iran Students News Agency, ISNA, Nobakht had said as security agents have been removed from Karroubi’s residence and are now stationed outside his house, he anticipated “the next steps to be taken."
Without elaboration on what those might entail, Nobakht declared, “An Intelligence Ministry report confirms security agents have left Karroubi’s house and are stationed outside."
Following heart surgery on August 16, Karroubi announced his dry hunger strike, demanding an open trial in a competent court of law and the removal of security agents from his residence.
A day later, he ended his strike after his son announced that promises had made by Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi and an unnamed deputy intelligence minister while they visited his father at the hospital.
After initial denials, Ejei at his Sunday press conference affirmed, “Karroubi's relatives said that people who frequented his house were disturbed and had some problems with the security agents who were stationed at the ground floor. I told them that their presence inside the house was not necessary."
Furthermore, Ejei claimed, “Now, I reiterate that the reason behind removing the security agents had nothing to do with Karroubi’s demand or his condition to end his hunger strike. It was simply a request that was accepted and the security agents left the house on Wednesday last week."
He went further to say, “[Karroubi’s] family committed in writing that they would be responsible for the safety and security matters inside the house while the agents stationed outside would look after the security there."
The number of demands for lifting the house arrests has increased in recent weeks after the circulation of the news concerning Karroubi and Mousavi’s poor health condition.
Former President Mohammad Khatami also joined the chorus calling for the release of the trio.
Ejei, without naming anybody in particular, cautioned, “Those who think that the SNSC’s resolution will be repealed by their uproar and setting scenes are deeply wrong since the SNSC has never made decisions under the influence of uproars and setting scenes. The judiciary’s also the same."
The judiciary’s spokesman insisted, “Even if there were no SNSC resolution [on the house arrests], the judiciary would have done the job that it’s responsible for."