'Iran opposition leader under house arrest'

Mahdi Karroubi's website says officers stationed at his Teheran home because of calls for rally in support of demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia.

Mahdi Karroubi 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mahdi Karroubi 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The website of an Iranian opposition leader says authorities have placed him under house arrest because of his calls for a rally in support of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt.
According to Mahdi Karroubi’s Sahamnews.org site, security officers were stationed at the entrance to his house in Teheran on Thursday and were preventing relatives from meeting him.
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Karroubi and fellow opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have asked for permission to hold a rally on Monday in support of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
State Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, however, has rejected the demand and warned of repercussions if the rally takes place.
Iran crushed opposition protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 reelection. The opposition says the presidential election was rigged.
“Security forces stationed outside of Karroubi’s house prevented one of his sons this morning from visiting his father’s home and said relatives are not allowed to meet him until Bahman 25 (Feb. 14),” the website reported, according to Reuters.
Karroubi’s wife was exempt from the ban, the website said, adding that the “de facto house arrest” was apparently related to his call for a rally in solidarity with protesters in Arab countries.
Sahamnews also reported the arrest of two Karroubi allies, Taghi Rahmani and Mostafa Mirahmadizadeh, since Wednesday night.
Separately on Thursday, Mousavi’s website Kaleme.org reported the detention of his close ally Muhammad Hossein Sharifzadegan.
On Wednesday, Iran’s chief prosecutor warned opposition supporters not to hold the planned rally, saying they could expect a response from “vigilant” Iranians if they did.
Many Iranians have said they may attend. A Facebook page dedicated to the day has more than 20,000 followers.
It would be the Green movement’s first demonstration since December 2009, when eight protesters were killed and more than 1,000 arrested, ending months of mass protests that saw the worst unrest in the country since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Iran’s elite military force, the Revolutionary Guards, also warned Wednesday against organizing a demonstration.
“The seditionists (opposition leaders) are nothing but a dead corpse, and we will strongly confront any of their movements,” Guards commander Hossein Hamedani told state news agency IRNA, as quoted by AFP. “We definitely consider them as anti-revolutionary and spies, and we will strongly confront them.”
In addition to calling a rally, Mousavi and Karroubi had launched a scathing attack on the regime on Tuesday, saying the nation was being ruled by “hooligans.”
In a joint statement posted on their respective websites, they said the Islamic republic had been “most hurt” by the “anti-religion and oppressive behavior of the regime itself.” They called for “an end to the rule of hooligans and to instill meritocracy.”