Iran's Opposition Leader Vows to Keep Fighting Regime - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Iran's Opposition Leader Vows to Keep Fighting Regime

Amnesty Internat'l says detainees may have been tortured

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    Iran's Opposition Leader Vows to Keep Fighting Regime
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    Reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi says the election that put Ahmadinejad back in office was fraudulent and that the regime is "illegitimate."

    Iran's embattled opposition leader urged his supporters Wednesday to keep working for "the rights of the people" in his first rallying cry since the regime validated the results of the country's disputed presidential election.

    Mir Hossein Mousavi reasserted his claim that the June 12 election was illegitimate, and he demanded that Iran's cleric-led government release all political prisoners and institute electoral reforms and press freedoms. His latest defiance came as Iran's feared Basij militia accused the opposition leader of undermining national security and asked a prosecutor to investigate his role in violent protests.

    Mousavi said in a statement on his Web site that he was troubled by "the bitter, widespread distrust of the people toward the declared election results and the government that caused it."

    "It's not yet too late," said Mousavi, who has slipped from public view in recent days. "It's our historic responsibility to continue our complaint and make efforts not to give up the rights of the people."

    Mousavi also condemned alleged attacks by security forces on college dormitories where "blood was spilled and the youth were beaten," and he called for a return to a more "honest" political environment in the Islamic Republic.

    The semiofficial Fars news agency said the Basij — known as supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's street enforcers — sent the chief prosecutor a letter accusing Mousavi of taking part in nine offenses against the state, including "disturbing the nation's security," which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

    Iran's regime says 17 protesters and eight Basiji were killed in two weeks of unrest that followed the election. Mousavi insists the vote was tainted by massive fraud and that he — not incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — is the rightful winner.

    The powerful Guardian Council, Iran's top electoral oversight body, pronounced the election results valid earlier this week — paving the way for Ahmadinejad to be sworn in later this month for a second four-year term.

    "Whether he wanted to or not, Mr. Mousavi in many areas supervised or assisted in punishable acts," said the Basij letter, which also accused Mousavi of bringing "pessimism" into the public sphere.

    In another sign of a tightening government clampdown on anyone challenging Ahmadinejad, a reformist political group said Wednesday that authorities banned a newspaper allied to presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi after he denounced Iran's government as "illegitimate" because of claims of voting fraud.

    Ahmadinejad on Tuesday repeated the claims that post-election street riots were linked to a "soft revolution" aided by foreign powers.

    "Enemies, despite overt and covert conspiracies to topple (the ruling system) through a soft overthrow, failed to reach their goals," state television quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Intelligence Ministry officials.

    It's unclear how many people have been detained during the post-election riots and protests, but at least one group, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights, claimed at least 2,000 arrests have been made. The figures could not be independently verified because of tight media restrictions.

    Amnesty International said Tuesday it was concerned about the possibility that many detainees "could be severely tortured" in custody, and it joined other human rights groups in demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners.

    Police chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam said Wednesday that Iranian intelligence officials were seeking Dr. Arash Hejazi, an Iranian doctor who tried to save Neda Agha Soltan after she was fatally shot on the sidelines of one of the demonstrations. He did not elaborate on why officials want Hejazi, but the regime repeatedly has implicated protesters and even foreign agents in Soltan's death.