Iran General NewsIran releases opposition leaders, rights advocates say

Iran releases opposition leaders, rights advocates say

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ImageNew York Times: In recent weeks, the Iranian authorities have released dozens of high-profile opposition figures who were arrested after the disputed presidential election in June, rights advocates said Friday. The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI

ImageIn recent weeks, the Iranian authorities have released dozens of high-profile opposition figures who were arrested after the disputed presidential election in June, rights advocates said Friday.

The prisoners were required to post bail in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the advocates said. Mohsen Mirdamadi, a former member of Parliament and reformist politician, was released this week after posting bail of $450,000. Saeed Leylaz, a prominent economist and journalist, and Bahman Ahmadi Amooee, another well-known journalist, were also released after paying substantial sums.

The advocacy group Human Rights Activists in Iran said Friday that about 18,000 people had been arrested since last summer, and that many of them remained in prison. Emadeddin Baghi, a human rights activist and journalist, has been in solitary confinement for the past 50 days, the opposition Jaras Web site reported. At least six people were sentenced to death last week for their role in the protests, in addition to two others who were executed in February.

On Thursday, on the eve of the Iranian New Year, the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi issued a video reasserting his leadership and naming the new year one of “perseverance and patience.” It was a direct affront to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who by tradition names the new year in a message delivered on March 21.

The 16-minute video, which was posted on Facebook, was the first from Mr. Moussavi since last summer, when the protests erupted after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won what was widely regarded as a fraudulent election. Mr. Moussavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, who has also been at odds with the government, issued a New Year’s message as well.

Mr. Moussavi said that events since the election on June 12 had led to a “new awakening.”

He continued, “It is not right to treat people like uncivilized and ignorant people, as though matters should be decided for them.” In the video he is seen sitting next to a table with the traditional Haft-Sin, seven items that begin with letter S in Persian to mark the beginning of spring and the New Year.

He predicted that the country’s deep economic malaise would be increasingly evident, with greater poverty and unemployment in the new year because of the government’s mismanagement.

Also on Thursday, the authorities jailed Hussein Marashi, a relative of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the nation’s most influential politicians, an opposition Web site, Kalame, reported. Mr. Rafsanjani sided with the opposition in the aftermath of the election but has occupied a hazy middle ground in recent months.

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