Iran General NewsForeigners were arrested at Tehran protest, Iran claims

Foreigners were arrested at Tehran protest, Iran claims

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ImageThe Times: Iran’s regime said yesterday that several foreigners were arrested during last week’s massive opposition demonstration in Tehran, but it was impossible to tell whether the claim was true or an attempt to discredit the opposition. The Times

Martin Fletcher

ImageIran’s regime said yesterday that several foreigners were arrested during last week’s massive opposition demonstration in Tehran, but it was impossible to tell whether the claim was true or an attempt to discredit the opposition.

The foreigners “were leading a psychological war against the system”, Heidar Moslehi, the Intelligence Minister, told state television. He gave no details. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that it was checking a report on a pro-govenment website that a British national was arrested.

The regime has consistently portrayed the opposition as Western stooges — a potent charge in a country that has suffered repeated British and American intervention.

However, disinformation is rife. Last week a state-controlled news agency claimed falsely that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the opposition leaders, had fled Tehran. The Times was sent a forged letter suggesting that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, was preparing to flee to Russia.

Some opposition activists believe that the regime plants damaging stories about itself so that it can disprove them and accuse the opposition of spreading lies. “If they can succeed once that will discredit everything else we put out,” one said.

Bahman Ahmadi, a journalist arrested after the disputed presidential election in June, has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 34 lashes. The regime blocked a visit by 11 MEPs who planned to meet opposition leaders, and 88 academics from the University of Tehran wrote to Ayatollah Khamenei to demand an end to the violence against demonstrators.

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