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Iran Special: Latest on the Regime's Detention of Opposition Figures Mousavi, Rahnavard, and Karroubi

On Sunday morning we posted the confirmation that key opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard had been moved to a house of detention controlled by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

James Miller of EA has established a LiveBlog on his website Dissected News to cover this development, which we consider one of the most significant in the crisis after the disputed Presidential election of June 2009. EA is linking to this LiveBlog and Dave Siavashi's Iran News Now, as well as posting the latest news as we get it.


2010 GMT: The children of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard and of Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi have written an open letter to the regime challenging the detention of their parents: "We believe that our parents did not commit a crime but only applied the divine language in their statement. Are you are so afraid of the facts stated in public view that you must imprison them?"

2000 GMT: The family of Mehdi Karroubi, writing in Saham News had responded quickly to the denial by Fars of the arrests, posting more details of the detentions.

1855 GMT: The location of Heshmatiyeh Prison in Tehran, where Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi were taken today.

1845 GMT: Fars News has given the first reaction from Iranian media to the detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi, claiming the story is untrue.

Quoting an unnamed judiciary official, Fars said Mousavi and Karroubi were still under house arrest and claimed that foreign media such as BBC Persian and the Voice of America were spreading the rumour to cause unrest.

1840 GMT: Opposition advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand has made a drawn on current events to compare the arrests of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi with the kidnapping of Musa al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr is an Iranian-born Lebanese philosopher and Shī‘a religious leader who disappeared in Libya in August 1978. Many believe he was executed by the Qaddafi regime, but there have been reports this week that he could be alive in a Libyan prison.

1830 GMT: The reformist Association of Combatant Clerics has called for the release of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi at earliest possible time.

1710 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Kalemeh claims that Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi have been moved to Heshmatiyeh Prison in Tehran.

Meanwhile, this appears to be as close as the regime has come to admitting the detentions. Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei has said that cut-off of communications and house arrest --- not the move to a prison or house controlled by security forces, but restriction to their residences --- is "only the first step".

1630 GMT: The stakes have been raised over the move of opposition figures to a house of detention, as Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News has accused the Supreme Leader's office of ordering the seizure of Karroubi and his wife Fatemeh, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard.

Saham News also reports that authorities are trying to find Karroubi's son Hossein, who gave details of the detentions last night, and arrest him. Security forces raided Hossein Karroubi's residence two weeks ago, reportedly to detain him, but he was not at home.

0800 GMT: Banooye Sabz translates the important entry from Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News that we summarised below:


In a brief discussion with Saham News, one of Mehdi Karroubi's sons confirmed the definitive transfer of Mehdi Karroubi and his wife to an undisclosed location by security forces stating: "A few minutes ago I spoke with one of the neighbors who witnessed the transfer of my parents from their house. The individual informed us that at midnight on Thursday night, eight vans belonging to security forces appeared in front of the building and the main parking lot where Karroubi's house is located. Minutes later they left inside a car that left the parking structure. According to the eye witness, once they left, the building was completely vacated and the lights to the residence were turned off."


It is worth mentioning that this event coincided with a highly secure atmosphere in Tehran on Thursday with the Minister of Intelligence announcing that morning that important new information would be put forth to the nation on national television.


(Cross-posted from Monday's Iran LiveBlog)

2210 GMT: One of the sons of Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi has said that his parents were probably moved on Friday Thursday night at around midnight from their residence to the house of detention. He said that a neighbour had seen a security van pull up outside his parents' complex. After the van's departure, the lights in the Karroubi home was off and never came on again.

The transfer came soon after the regime increased the security presence at key points in Tehran.

1700 GMT: Abulhassan Banisadr, Iran's first President and a prominent political figure, has condemned the detention of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi. In an interview with Asre Jadid (Modern Age) Radio, he stated, "All Iranians and non-Iranians must defend Mousavi and Karroubi's rights." He also linked Iran's opposition movement to the pro-democracy movement in the Arab world.

1325 GMT: A source for EA and Dissected News has reported the following, which we are treating as unconfirmed, "The Supreme National Security Council issued the house arrest verdict, and the verdict was issued to Karroubi through a judge called Nourian."

1105 GMT: In a poll conducted by the conservative Jahan News, 41% of readers called for the lifting of house arrests of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi.

The survey was conducted before the news, which is still not being carried by Iranian state media, that the four had been taken to a house of detention overseen by the Revolutionary Guards.

1100 GMT: Iran News Now notes the Facebook page "Free Karroubi NOW", established after last week's raid on Mehdi Karroubi's residence.

0845 GMT: Opposition activist Hasan Shariatmadari, in a video interview, has called on all in the Green Movement to protest the arrests of Mousavi, Rahnavard, and the Karroubis. He warns that, if there is no reaction, the regime may be emboldened to kill the detainees.

0743 GMT: The regime source who told CNN of the move may be Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Commission. According to Al Jazeera,

The head of the Iranian parliament’s National Security Commission has said that Mousavi and Karroubi were “escorted” by security forces.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi also denied they were under house arrest, and told Italian newspaper Il Manifesto that “they also committed certain illegal acts such as organising protests without a permit, and for this they may become subject to prosecution”.

The two men had been reportedly arrested secretly without being summoned or charged, and their contact with the outside world was effectively cut.”

As of right now, no one knows the location or the condition of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi except the government of Iran.

0710 GMT: EA WorldView, in its Iran LiveBlog, moves its report from "unconfirmed" to "established"....


"Iranian government sources" have told CNN --- to be specific, the reliable CNN reporter Reza Sayah --- that the four were placed in a safe house for their own welfare, although they have not been arrested.

One source rather bizarrely suggested the move occurred because the opposition might have been planning to injure or kill the Mousavi, Karroubi, and their wives: "The opposition movement is very much looking for martyrs so if this is true it's for their own safety...[The opposition] is always looking for an excuse to create something, so this may be done to keep someone from doing something to them."

26 FEBRUARY: The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran publishes a report that Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi have been removed from house arrest to a “safe house”, run by unknown forces, without being formally charged.

Former President Mohammad Khatami, Ayatollah Dastgheib, the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, and Ahmed Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, are among those who speak out against the house arrests of these leaders.

In the 12 days before this development, Mehdi Karroubi’s house is attacked and occupied by security forces. His son Ali is detained. Mousavi and Rahnavard are cut off from all contact with their daughters.

14 FEBRUARY: In the days before the opposition take to the streets on 14 Feburary in solidarity with the protesters in Egypt and Tunisia, reports circulate that Mir Hossein Mousavi has been placed under house arrest. During this time, Mehdi Karroubi is also placed under house arrest and his phone lines are cut.

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