Iran crackdown continues; prominent reformers arrested

A comparatively calm day was interrupted by the detention of relatives of a former president

By Alex Koppelman

Published June 21, 2009 9:44PM (EDT)

Sunday appears to have provided Tehran with a respite from the bloodshed that marked clashes between government forces, militia and protesters a day before. But there was still plenty of action in the ongoing conflict over Iran's recent presidential elections.

The day's biggest event was the news of the arrest and brief detention of five relatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, including his daughter. Rafsanjani remains a powerful, influential figure in Iran, as well as a leader of the country's moderates and the most prominent supporter of  opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. His relatives were arrested late Saturday night, but as of Sunday night, they had all reportedly been freed.

Maziar Bahari, a correspondent for Newsweek, was also arrested Sunday, as were two prominent Iranian journalists. That's just the latest part of the Iranian government's effort to restrict the flow of information going out of the country; Reporters Without Borders puts the number of journalists arrested since last week at 23. Inside the country, though, Iranian state media is working to spread its own message in a new campaign against Mousavi, calling him a criminal.

Meanwhile, Iran's senior ayatollah, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, has declared three days of national mourning next week. A relative liberal, Montazeri had earlier come out against the government's handling of the election and its aftermath.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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