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Khatami Practically Under House Arrest, Prevented To Meet With Aides

Mohammad Khatami, Iran's ex-president, casts his ballot-- 19 May 2017

Four the second time in over a month, the security forces in Iran have prevented former president Mohammad Khatami to attend a gathering with his former cabinet ministers and aides, a reformist activist announced, Thursday, November 30.

“Khatami used to get together with his government members at a dinner party once a month since 2005, when he left office. Now, for the second time in a row, Khatami was not allowed to participate in the gathering”, former spokesman of his administration, Abdullah Ramazanzadeh disclosed on his Twitter account.

An hour later, the tweet was deleted, but another pro-Khatami figure, Faizollah Arab Sorkhi almost immediately published a similar tweet.

“They [Iran’s judiciary] do not have the guts to respond to the one who is deriding [the Islamic republic’s authorities] from top to bottom. Nevertheless, the former president is not allowed to sit down and have dinner with his ministers”.

Sorkhi was referring to another twice former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has recently attacked the Islamic Republic’s judiciary in his numerous derisive and vitriolic remarks.

Earlier on October 18, media outlets close to the reformist former president announced that security forces had stopped Khatami attending a session at BARAN, an institution he has launched for “promoting freedom” in Iran.

The Foundation for Freedom, Growth and Development of Iran, BARAN (an acronym in Persian, meaning rain) was established by Khatami in 2005 after his second consecutive term as president. BARAN, according to its website, is a non-profit foundation with mainly pro-reform members and a mission statement for “promotion of freedom, growth and development in Iran”.

Meanwhile, a pro-reform website, Saham News reported in October that the “Special Clerical Court” had sent a letter to Khatami telling him that he was not allowed to attend any public or private event in the next three months. The ban applied even to going to theater, concerts, or any “non-family related” events, the report said.

This was later confirmed by Khatami’s lawyers. However, judiciary officials have denied imposing any “new” restrictions on the former president.

The prosecutor of the Special Clerical Court announced on October 29 that the measures against Khatami were based on an order by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). However, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president and the head of the council has said in the past that the SNSC had never issued any order against the former President.

It is not uncommon in the Islamic Republic for different state organs or officials to contradict each other, since the system is based on parallel, overlapping and often competing centers of power.

Since the controversial presidential election in 2009, Khatami, who supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s challengers, has been facing severe restrictions, including being barred from interviewing the media and travelling abroad.

Despite Khatami’s outright support for Hassan Rouhani in 2013 and 2017 presidential elections, the restrictions imposed on the former president have been significantly intensified, which can be an indication of how limited the president’s powers are in security matters.

President Rouhani has not yet reacted to the new restrictions imposed on one of his main supporters.