Teheran's chief prosecutor has objected to a court's acquittal of a former nuclear negotiator accused by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of spying, and moved for a retrial in the case, a government-owned daily reported Thursday.
Chief Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi claimed the verdict was unlawful and sent the case for more investigation to one of his subordinates, the Iran newspaper said. The step is likely to led to a retrial by another court.
The development - clearly backing the hard-line president - was the latest surrounding negotiator Hossein Mousavian, who has become the centerpiece in an evolving tug-of-war between Ahmadinejad and his more liberal political rivals.
It also followed Wednesday's announcement by Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi that the Iranian secret service would object to the verdict and would call for a new probe into the case.
Ahmadinejad has complained over Mousavian's acquittal and threatened Wednesday his government would disclose details of conversations the former negotiator held with foreigners with whom he was accused of colluding.
Mousavian was accused by the Intelligence Ministry of passing classified information to foreigners, including the British Embassy, and was charged with "spying, keeping confidential documents and propagating against the ruling system."
The secret service allegedly has recorded conversations between Mousavian and unnamed foreigners during the meetings.
On Tuesday, Mousavian was found innocent of the first two charges and guilty of the third charge, and the court also suspended a sentence against him.
Ahmadinejad's stance over the Mousavian case has stepped up dissent against the president from among conservatives, who were mostly considered his supporters in the past.
On Wednesday, scores of dissenting voices were raised in support of Mousavian, including of influential conservative figures such as parliament speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel and Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Last week, Mousavian's former boss, Hasan Rowhani, sharply criticized Ahmadinejad for prosecuting his colleague, a reflection of the mounting rivalry between Ahmadinejad and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful figure in Iran's clerical leadership who has emerged as a leader of conservatives disillusioned by the president.
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