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Iran Offcials  Refute Reuters' Death Toll of 1,500 In November Protests

Ali Rabiee, Iran Presidential Spokesman, says the death toll of 1500 for the November protests given in a Reuters report is "a lie". FILE PHOTO

Rouhani Administration Spokesman Ali Rabiee and Chief-of-Staff Mahmoud Vaezi on December 25 said the November protests death toll of 1,500 reported by Reuters was a "lie" but both officials declined to give an official number.

"These are organizations well-known for telling lies. They are used to spreading such lies," Rabiee claimed and added that the authorities need to make a tally quickly and make an announcement of the death toll.

On Wednesday, the President's Chief-of-Staff Mahmoud Vaezi also called the figure given by Reuters, which it says is based on information from three different sources in the Supreme Leader's Office, an "exaggerated figure". Both officials were speaking to the press after a cabinet meeting.

Vaezi told reporters the death toll tally which the authorities are preparing must be announced by the Judiciary.

In its report, Reuters quoted three unnamed sources close to Khamenei's office and an Interior Ministry official as saying that a few days after the protests started Khamenei grew impatient and ordered his top security and government officials "to do whatever it takes" to stop the protests.

The unnamed sources talking to Reuters also confirmed a death toll of 1,500 based on information gathered from security forces, morgues, hospitals, and coroner’s offices which is much higher than the figure announced by Amnesty International which stands at 304.

Iran's hardliner Young Journalists Club (YJC) on December 24 quoted an "informed source close to the Supreme Leader's Office" as saying there had been no meeting between Khamenei and the President and other cabinet members during the protests.

Meanwhile, in a report on December 24, the state-run television (IRIB) which is dominated by Rouhani's hardliner rivals also called for the immediate release of the death toll to prevent "misrepresentation" by "enemies".

The IRIB also alleged that some protesters' deaths, including the death of Pouya Bakhtiari who was shot in the head on November 16 in Karaj, were "suspicious". The deaths were used by Iran's enemies and the media outside Iran to "create symbols" against the Islamic Republic, the state television claimed.

After the Reuters report Prince Reza Pahlavi, the exiled heir to Iran’s throne, asked European members of the UN Security Council to support a legal case against the Islamic Republic.