A day after Iran’s chief of judiciary dismissed President Hassan Rouhani’s election promise of ending house arrests for three opposition leaders, the president’s spokesman told the conservative detractor to be more discreet.
“I recommend that His Excellency present his views on the subject at the Supreme National Security Council sessions,” said spokesman Bagher Nobakht.
A day earlier, on May 29, the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, had indirectly attacked Rouhani for his calls to free the opposition leaders, who have been under house arrest since 2011.
“Who are you to try to end the house arrests?” he said.
Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi were presidential candidates in the 2009 election, in which the incumbent, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, was swiftly declared the winner. Many voters were convinced the election results had been manipulated, leading to the worst unrest the country 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.
Consequently, Karroubi, Mousavi, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard were detained and put under house arrest in 2011.
Rouhani, during one of his campaign speeches in the city of Kerman, promised his audience to pass on their demand for freeing the trio and do whatever he could to end their house arrest. Rouhani did not say through which channels he intended to pass on the demand.
Nobakht, urging Larijani to make his case to the National Security Council, advised him to be more discreet, and avoid discussing such topics in public.
As head of the judiciary, Larijani is one of the members of the influential Supreme Security Council, where Rouhani presides.
Meanwhile, Nobakht reminded Larijani, “Power, in the Islamic Republic structure, is distributed between three branches: executive, judiciary, and legislative. The president is head of the executive branch and responsible for the implementation of the constitution. Therefore, he uses his authority in the framework of his purview, whenever necessary.”
On May 29, Larijani, a conservative and close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lambasted the media and threatened persons who, according to him, “permanently try to present such cases in an orchestrated style and exert pressure [on the judiciary].”
“I warn them to wrap up their masquerade; otherwise, the judiciary will step in and ends it,” he said.
It has been more than six years since the house arrest evolved into a national dilemma in Iran. No one knows who is officially responsible. While reformist and moderate supporters of Rouhani have been trying to free the trio, the conservatives support it continuing.
Ending the house arrest was one of Rouhani’s main promises while he campaigned for his first term of presidency in 2013. However, he has been unsuccessful in fulfilling his promise so far.
The promise was echoed time and again in his campaign for re-election.
“I am ready to kiss the supreme leader’s hand 10 times if it were necessary to end the house arrest,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani’s supporters, encouraged by his recent decisive victory in the presidential election, hope he will be in a stronger position in bargaining for the release of Mousavi, Rahnavard, and Karroubi.
The re-elected president would be sworn into office at the parliament on August 6, the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, quoted a member of the legislative body’s presiding board, Ahmad Amirabadi, as saying on May 30.