Iranian opposition says at least 79 arrested in protests

Anti-regime websites claim thousands demonstrated to demand release of opposition leaders; gov't denies protests took place.

Moussavi 311 Reuters (photo credit: REUTERS)
Moussavi 311 Reuters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TEHRAN- Iran's opposition said at least 79 people were arrested at protest rallies on Tuesday that the government denied had taken place at all.
Authorities have deployed large numbers of security forces to prevent any repeat of the massive unrest that followed hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election, and on Wednesday state media made no mention of Tuesday's rallies.
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Opposition websites said thousands of people demonstrated in Tehran and other cities to demand the release of "Green movement" leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi who they believe were taken from their homes last week and jailed.
Prosecutor-General Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei denied the arrests, saying both men were still in their homes but were being prevented from communicating with the outside world.
According to opposition website Sahamnews, at least 79 people were arrested on Tuesday. Sites said some 1,500 were arrested on Feb. 14 during the Green movement's first rally in more than a year, which was called to show support for pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa.
The police said "dozens" of people were arrested on Feb. 14, and a parliamentary committee set up to investigate the events said only small groups of trouble-makers turned up.
Talking of events on Tuesday, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told reporters: "A limited number of people, influenced by anti-revolutionary groups, were intending to do something."
"No specific incident happened on Tuesday in Tehran," he said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Dolatabadi declined to give the number of arrests.