U.S. Calls On Iran to Release Detained Opposition Leaders

The U.S. State Department late on February 15 called on Iran to release three opposition leaders who have been under house arrest for seven years, RFERL reports.

The statement came on the seventh anniversary of the detention of 2009 Iranian presidential candidates Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, as well as Mousavi’s wife and women’s rights advocate Zahra Rahnavard.

Karrubi, a former parliament speaker, helped lead mass protests against alleged election rigging in 2009 after official election results in the country said he lost his bid for the presidency.

“The continued house arrest of these three individuals contradicts Iran’s international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to provide minimum fair trial guarantees and not to subject citizens to arbitrary arrest or detention,” said department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

“We join the international community in condemning the continued arbitrary detention of these three individuals without charges or fair trials and in calling for their immediate release and for the release of all prisoners of conscience unjustly detained in Iran,” she said.

Last month, Karrubi criticized Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for blaming “foreign enemies” for a wave of street protests, saying he should “accept responsibility” for his “policies of the last three decades.” Karrubi, a Shi’ite cleric like Khamenei, also said the protests that began over economic conditions in Iran were inevitable because of the depth of “injustice, corruption, and discrimination” in the country.

At least 25 people were killed and more than 3,000 detained as authorities put down the protests, which had spread to more than 90 cities and towns. U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly praised the protesters, and on February 15 Nauert said the United States wants Iran to “respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms” of all Iranians.