TEHRAN - Iranian authorities declined on Tuesday to confirm the whereabouts of two opposition leaders, whose supporters say were arrested amid efforts to rekindle street protests that were crushed more than a year ago.
Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi had been living under virtual house arrest since they called a rally for Feb. 14 to support uprisings in North Africa.
They were arrested along with their wives last Thursday, say their supporters who plan an unauthorized demonstration in Tehran later on Tuesday to demand their release. At his weekly news conference, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast declined to confirm or deny the arrests, calling the situation a "domestic issue" which was being exploited by foreign governments to show Iran in a bad light.
"The news related to some people (Karoubi and Mousavi) will be looked into by judiciary officials and within the legal frameworks," Mehmanparast said. "This issue cannot be used as a pretext by America and some other western countries ... to try to divert everyone's attention to unreal issues."
Both men, who spearheaded protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June 2009, face calls from parliament to be tried and hanged for what government supporters say is their role in stirring "sedition."